Suarez-led House minority supports martial law in Mindanao

MANILA, Philippines – The 18 members of the House minority bloc led by Quezon 3rd District Representative Danilo Suarez are supporting the declaration of martial law in Mindanao. 

"The minority supports the declaration of martial law in the entire area of Mindanao. The Marawi attack by the Maute Group may be tantamount to rebellion, which justifies the declaration of martial law from a legal perspective," Minority Leader Suarez said in a news conference on Wednesday, May 31.

Suarez said they believe that the Mindanao-wide imposition of martial law "is necessary to protect the lives and safety of those under our care."

President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23, following clashes between government forces and the Maute terrorist group in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur.

The 1987 Constitution allows the President to declare martial law for 60 days, but any extension requires the approval of Congress. The Supreme Court may also review a martial law declaration following an "appropriate proceeding filed by any citizen." 

Congress leaders earlier said it is "unlikely" for them to convene in a joint session on martial law. Minority senators had filed a resolution calling for a joint session, but the Senate voted 12-9 on Tuesday, May 30, junking that resolution.

Makabayan lawmakers at the House, aside from seeking a joint session, also want to revoke the martial law declaration in Mindanao.

On Wednesday, Suarez reiterated his earlier criticism that the clashes in Marawi City are due to a failure of intelligence on the part of the country's security officials.

Meanwhile, Buhay Representative Lito Atienza advised Duterte to be more prudent in his statements on martial law. 

"Anticipating future developments and events, we would like him to be more careful and prudent next time. As you can see, even former president [Fidel] Ramos disagrees that martial law was already needed at the moment," said Atienza. (READ: Ramos fears 'more harmful' martial law under Duterte)

"The former president cautioned that martial law should be the last [resort] that the President should use, because every time you do that, the whole nation suffers," he added.

Duterte earlier said he would only listen to the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police on when to end martial law.  

He also made another rape joke while rallying troops to win the war against terrorists, prompting the resignation of Samira Gutoc-Tomawis from the Bangsamoro Transition Commission. 

The Suarez-led minority bloc has been criticized for being "subservient" to the majority. Suarez is also a co-author of several administration bills, including the reimposition of the death penalty as well as giving Duterte emergency powers to address urban traffic woes.  

As of posting, lawmakers were still in an executive session with Cabinet secretaries and national security officials, who are briefing the legislators on the martial law declaration in Mindanao. – 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.

image