MANILA, Philippines – Former senator Rene Saguisag criticized Congress for being a "lackey" of President Rodrigo Duterte, following his declaration of martial law in Mindanao.
Saguisag said the Chief Executive’s proclamation is an “over-reaction”, saying just because the President is authorized to declare martial law, it can be quickly invoked.
“Komo nasa Saligang Batas na 60 days eh yun ay isang kisap-mata lang yun. Hindi ko nalalaman yung epekto sa general populace except the suffering and the hardship of those living in Marawi to be homeless, to be killed. But otherwise, over-reaction yan eh, overkill,” Saguisag told reporters on Thursday, June 1.
(Just because the Constitution allows 60 days, you can invoke it quickly. I don't know the effects on the general populace except for suffering and hardship for those living in Marawi to be homeless, to be killed. But otherwise, it's an over-reaction, overkill.)
“Ano ba ang basis? Nasaan ang invasion? Saan ang invaders? Nasaan ang rebellion? Kaya tama si Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzna, wala naman kayang need to inflict martial law,” he said, referring to Lorenzana's admission before senators that he did not recommend the imposition of military rule in Mindanao.
(What is the basis? Where is the invasion? Where are the invaders? Where is the rebellion? That's why Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana is right, that there is no need to impose martial law.)
Section 18, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution says that the President, as commander-in-chief, may "in case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it", suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or put the country under martial law.
He said the government could have conducted a surgical police or military operation to solve the problem without “scaring” the people of Luzon and the Visayas, as well as tourists and investors.
The former senator then hit Congress for being Duterte’s “yes man.” The House of Representatives and the Senate refused to convene a joint session to publicly deliberate on Duterte’s declaration.
“Ngayon ito namang Senado at House, eh ganun eh. Talagang they are not voices, they are echoes. Kung anong sabihin ni Digong ‘Yes, sir. Yes, sir,’” Saguisag said. (Now this Senate and House, they really are not voices, they are echoes. Whatever Digong says, 'Yes, sir. Yes, sir.")
“May Congress ba tayo? 'Di ba, puro tameme eh. Eh ngayon, yung mga iba naman dun puro chuchuwa yun eh, i mean, chuwariwariwap,” he added.
(Do we have a Congress? They're all quiet. Some of them there are minions.)
The former senator said lawmakers should go on record with their stand for the public’s benefit – an argument shared by some senators and lawmakers pushing for “transparency and accountability.”
"History will look at what happened and each congressman, each senator should go on record on where they stand on it and give a legally tenable, intellectually respectable and psychologically satisfying basis kung bakit ang position nila is pro or anti (on why their position is either pro or anti),” he said.
Former Senate president Aquilino Pimentel Jr also shared the same sentiment, saying the 1987 Constitution requires Congress to convene a joint session.
This is contrary to the stance of his son, Senate President Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III and other Duterte allies, who said Congress needs to convene only to revoke the proclamation. – Rappler.com
Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email firstname.lastname@example.org