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After SC ruling, lawmakers fear PH-wide expansion of martial rule

MANILA, Philippines – Opposition lawmakers warned that President Rodrigo Duterte may be emboldened to expand the scope of martial law to the entire Philippines after the Supreme Court (SC) affirmed his proclamation in Mindanao on Tuesday, July 4.

Akbayan Representative Tom Villarin warned Filipinos against Duterte's “creeping authoritarian rule in the guise of safety and security," after the SC voted 11-3-1 in favor of the Mindanao martial law.  

"Now that he is cloaked with such authority, President Duterte might push it to the limit and declare a drug-induced nationwide rebellion by terror groups. Martial law becomes a hard habit to break,” said Villarin. 

Gabriela Representative Arlene Brosas, one of the petitioners against Duterte’s Proclamation 216, echoed the sentiment. She added that with the SC ruling, the military will be encouraged to increase aerial strikes against the Maute Group and the Abu Sayyaf Group in Marawi City.

“The Filipino women and the people face a dark era with the 3 branches of government throwing their support to the declaration of the Mindanao-wide martial law, which has only wrought destruction in Marawi and enabled worse military-sponsored rights violations across Mindanao,” said Brosas.

“With the SC backing of martial law, the military will be emboldened to carry out aerial strikes, indiscriminate firing and in using rape as a tool of war against civilians,” she added.

Brosas’ co-petitioner, ACT Teachers Representative Antonio Tinio, was dismayed by the High Court’s ruling as well.

“I'm afraid that this Supreme Court will go down in history as having paved the way  for state repression against citizens in the name of a prolonged and expanded martial law based on nebulous and shifting grounds,” Tinio said. 

A few hours before the SC announced the ruling, Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa said the police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines were "inclined" to recommend an extension of the imposition of martial law in Mindanao.

Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat Jr, another opposition lawmaker, slammed the plan and urged the public to oppose the move.

"This is one draconian step to institutionalizing a dictatorship and must be opposed by democracy defenders in Congress,” said Baguilat.

Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23 after government troops clashed with members of the Maute Group and the Abu Sayyaf Group. 

Under the Constitution, martial law only lasts for 60 days, or until July 22. Should Duterte wish to extend it, he must get approval from Congress which is dominated by his allies. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the Senate 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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