The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and some lawmakers put their foot down on the proposal to prolong the implementation of martial law by five years, saying there is no basis for it.
AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr. said a five-year extension may be “too long” based on the current security situation in Mindanao.
“The Armed Forces, before it makes its recommendation to the Commander-in-Chief, must have enough basis, an intelligent basis to make whatever recommendation there is for the extension or the lifting (of martial law),” Padilla said during the Mindanao Hour news conference in Malacañang.
“We are sticking to some mission profiles that we were provided at the very beginning of martial law. These are the operational considerations,” he added.
President Rodrigo Duterte had said that the decision to extend or lift martial law in Mindanao will be based on the recommendation of the military.
But Padilla clarified that the AFP can only make recommendations but the final decision rests on political leaders.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez earlier proposed that martial law be implemented until the end of Duterte’s term of office.
“Una, hindi ko alam kung ano ang nagiging batayan ng ating Speaker, kasi isang political decision ang martial law eh [First, we don’t know what was the basis of the Speaker for saying that, because martial law is a political decision],” Padilla said.
“Magrerekomenda lang ang ating Department of National Defense or Armed Forces, pero ang eventual decision ay kinakailangang manggaling sa political leadership na merong mas malawak na pinagbabatayan ng kanilang desisyon [The Department of National Defense or AFP will only recommend but the decision will come from the political leadership that has a wider range of basis for their decision],” he added.
Padilla said the military’s recommendation on the possible extension of martial law will be based on whether or not it has accomplished orders given to troops when martial law was proclaimed.
The military will submit its recommendation to Defense Secretary and martial law administrator Delfin Lorenzana in a “few days,” he added.
Lorenzana will then endorse the document to the President who will make the decision on whether to lift martial law or ask Congress to extend it.
Martial law will expire on July 22.
Alvarez had said that he would push for the extension of martial law in Mindanao until 2022.
Palace spokesman Ernesto Abella clarified that the extension of martial law in Mindanao would be the decision of the President.
“Speaker Alvarez has clarified that his remarks to extend martial law until 2022 is his personal opinion,” Abella said.
Bad for economy
Rep. Harry Roque of Kabayan party-list also on Monday said extending martial law in Mindanao would be bad for the country because it would scare away tourists and investors.
“The President is yet to ask for an extension…but while I was supportive of the initial declaration, I hope that if an extension is made, it will be just for the shortest time possible because declaring martial law is never good for the country. By extending it, it will be a continuing admission before the international community that we are yet to contain rebellion, invasion,” Roque, also the House deputy minority leader, said.
“Under martial law, the military rule is supreme. When the military is supreme and not the civilian authority, it means people without the [electoral]mandate are in charge,” he added.
The Constitution provides the President can only declare martial law and suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in cases of rebellion, invasion or when public safety requires it.
“I would be cautious [in extending martial law]. The international community may already conclude that we have long term problems as far as peace and order is concerned, but I can see that martial law is still badly needed in Marawi, in parts of Lanao del Sur and ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) where the extremist groups are based,” Roque said.
“An extended martial law is never good for business, never good for tourism, never good for our international reputation. I will be comfortable if it will be extended for just another 60 days,” he added.
Rep. Edcel Lagman of Albay, one of the lawmakers who questioned Duterte’s martial law declaration, echoed Roque’s sentiments.
“It stands to reason that any extension should not exceed the original maximum period of 60 days as a provided in the Constitution. The guiding constitutional safeguard is the limited duration of martial law and the suspension
of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus,” Lagman said.
Roque admitted that Congress can extend martial law for as long as it wants to.
“The length [of the extended martial law], will have no more limitation…it’s up to congress to determine how long will it be,” he told reporters.
Representatives Antonio Tinio of Alliance of Concerned Teachers party-list and Gary Alejano of Magdao party-list said extending martial law would be “appalling.”
“It’s becoming more evident that the Marawi crisis was merely the pretext, but the Duterte administration’s plan all along is to place all of Mindanao under permanent martial rule. The Duterte administration seems to be ignoring the lesson of history that martial law will not bring peace but only further violence to the people of Mindanao,” Tinio said.
“Extending martial law to 2022, as some have recommended, will practically render the constitutional safeguards useless, which was envisioned by the framers of the 1987 Constitution to avoid the repeat of a Marcos-type martial law,” Alejano said.