Alvarez, Mindanao lawmakers justify martial law declaration

MANILA, Philippines – Mindanao lawmakers led by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said Wednesday, May 24. that the declaration of martial law in Mindanao is justifiable, given the other security problems faced by the region. 

The lawmakers were asked to comment on President Rodrigo Duterte's decision to declare martial law in Mindanao after clashes between the the military clashed and the Maute terrorist group in Marawi City.

Alvarez, who is Davao del Norte 1st District Representative, said Duterte made the right decision.

Well, tama lang ‘yong ano, ‘yong ginawa ng ating Presidente sa aking pananaw bilang isang taga-Mindanao. Talagang mayroong kaguluhang nangyayari doon. Ito ay matagal nang dinudusa no’ng ating bayan, ano?” said Alvarez.

(What the President did was right, in my view as someone from Mindanao. There is really disorder happening there. Our countrymen have been enduring that for a long time.)

Surigao del Sur 2nd District Representative Johnny Pimentel shared the same sentiment. He said martial law will help address his province’s longstanding "insurgency problem." 

“We fully support the proclamation of martial law in Mindanao. Ang Mindanao talaga, problema talaga ang peace and order situation (The peace and order situation is really a problem in Mindanao)….I think the proclamation is timely so that we can solve also other problems like criminality,” said Pimentel. 

Davao City 1st District Representative Karlo Nograles, who called the crisis in Marawi as a “clear case of rebellion," said martial rule will help confine the fighting.

“This is a clear case of rebellion, and to preserve public safety in Mindanao and ensure that the clashes do not spill over to other parts of the island and the Philippines, President Duterte was correct in placing Mindanao under martial law,” said Nograles. 

On Tuesday afternoon, the military launched a surgical strike in Barangay Basak Malutlut, Marawi City, against "high value targets" belonging to the Abu Sayyaf Group and the Maute Group, after receiving reports from the community about the presence of up to 15 suspicious armed men in the village.

The situation worsened a few hours later as fires broke out, power was cut, and the clashes between the military and the rebels continued. (READ: TIMELINE: Marawi clashes prompt martial law in all of Mindanao)

At 10 pm, Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao from Moscow, Russia, where he was on an official trip. He was due back in Manila late Wendnesday afternoon after cutting short his trip. (READ: Duterte says his martial law to be similar to Marcos time)

The 1987 Constitution allows the President to declare martial law to “prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion.” Duterte must submit a report, in person or in writing, to Congress within 48 hours after the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.

Congress, voting jointly and by a vote of a majority of its members, may revoke or extend the President’s declaration “if the invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it.” 

Constitutional safeguards vs martial law

Alvarez and Nograles noted that the 1987 Constitution has safeguards against abuse in relation to martial law.

May mga safeguards sa ating Constitution. At in fact, ‘pag binasa 'nyo ‘yong provision, kahit may martial law, hindi ibig sabihin ay suspended ‘yong mga korte natin. Nagfa-function pa rin ‘yon,” said Alvarez. 

(There are safeguards in the Constitution. And in fact, if you read the provision, even if there is martial law, it does not mean the courts will be closed. They will still function.)

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno already ordered all courts in Mindanao to remain open

Nograles added: “We appeal to the people to stay calm because democracy and our way of life will continue. The Constitution provides for the necessary safeguards.” 

Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas already urged legislators to stay in Manila pending Duterte’s arrival from Russia. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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