SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
Through the leadership of former President and now Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Senate President Vicente Sotto III, the Congress in a Joint Session on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved the extension of Proclamation No. 216, which in 2017 declared Martial Law and suspended the privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus in Mindanao.
The House voted 223-23 with no abstention in favor of the extension, while the Senate voted 12-5 with one abstention. With the overall vote of 235-28 with one abstention, the whole of Mindanao shall be under Martial Law for another year beginning January 1, 2019.
The Joint Session was conducted upon the request of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, who deemed the martial law extension as necessary due to the persisting rebellion by numerous terrorist groups.
An overwhelming support was heard among majority of the House Members, especially Minadanaoan Representatives. Though worries over Constitutional rights were also voiced, those who voted for the extension noted that martial law has played a significant role in the improved peace and order and economic growth in Mindanao.
Rep. Ansaruddin Abdul Malik Adiong (1st District, Lanao del Sur) pronounced the support of the local government officials of Marawi City and the province of Lanao del Sur on the extension of Martial Law to promote peace in their district. He asserted that the President and the AFP have been exercising prudence and great care in protecting the rights of their citizens.
“Security forces were able to maintain peace and order without violating the freedom and rights of our civilians. The checkpoints, curfew, and surrender of firearms have greatly helped in protecting our citizens. Recovery and rehabilitation of Marawi City will only prosper if the people’s safety is assured,” Adiong said.
For her part, Rep. Rosanna Vergara (3rd District, Nueva Ecija) observed that the extension of martial law is widely supported in Mindanao because it has positively impacted the region. She also hoped that martial law will soon be unnecessary in Mindanao.
“Even LGUs and most of my colleagues from Mindanao welcome the extension as it has spurred economic development and created a more conducive business environment. I support the sentiment of our fellow countrymen in Mindanao but I pray that in the near future Mindanao need not be put under martial law for it to enjoy lasting peace and prosperity,” Vergara said.
Likewise, Rep. Mohamad Khalid Dimaporo (1st District, Lanao del Norte) acknowledged that martial law is critical to the establishment of peace and order in his district.
He warned, however, that he will withdraw his support should there be clear abuse and violations of Constitutional rights under martial law.
Dimaporo further expressed concern over the management of Task Force Bangon Marawi over the most affected areas of the siege, noting that Marawi residents are still prohibited from returning to their properties even though the task force is already in the process of rehabilitating the city.
Rep. Frederick Siao (Lone District, Iligan City) likewise noted that while the extension of martial law is welcomed by Iligan, martial law should yield in marked improvements in peace and order in 2019.
“Martial law extension, yes, but produce clear verifiable results. Ninety-nine percent of my constituents in Iligan City are in favor of martial law extension in Mindanao… [But] alam nating walang forever na martial law,” Siao said.
“The Armed Forces of the Philippines and the PNP must produce at least 30 percent reduction in security threats so they can return Mindanao to the civilian PNP. Those rebel groups, terrorists, lawless armed groups and the private armies must be wiped out next year. Hunt them down, every last one of them, so there will be no more need for martial law after this extension,” Siao said.
Rep. Edcel Lagman (1st District, Albay) expressed his strong opposition against the third extension of Proclamation 216. He explained that it has become functus officio and cannot be anymore legally and constitutionally extended, because it was the President himself who made the declaration in October 2017 that Marawi City has been liberated from the terrorists.
While Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea claimed that Martial Law shall put an end to the ongoing rebellion in Mindanao, which is the long-standing obstacle to its rehabilitation and development, Lagman argued that the request for extension signals the failure of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as well as the Philippine National Police (PNP) in achieving its objectives.
Rep. Carlos Zarate (Party-list, BAYAN MUNA) also noted that the justification provided by the President seemed to be almost the same argument used in the request for extension in December last year. | Czarina Engracia & Molie Gonzales