• Only Congress can extend martial law, Drilon tells Palace

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    SENATE Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Thursday said the Palace cannot circumvent the law and just issue a new martial law proclamation if Congress does not extend Proclamation 216 placing the entire Mindanao under military rule.

    President Rodrigo Duterte had said extending martial law would depend on the recommendation of the military and police authorities tasked to quell the Maute rebellion in Marawi City.

    Drilon maintained that “only Congress” has the power to extend martial law, contrary to the claim of Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo that the President can issue another proclamation if lawmakers do not agree to an extension.

    “The Constitution is clear that it is Congress that has the power to extend martial law and the President may only recommend. You cannot circumvent the Constitution,” Drilon said in a statement.

    The Supreme Court on Tuesday affirmed the legality of the President’s Proclamation 216 placing Mindanao under martial law after the Maute extremist group seized Marawi City on May 23.

    Eleven justices voted to uphold the martial law declaration, three sought to limit its coverage to Marawi City and nearby areas, while one magistrate rejected the proclamation entirely.

    The 60-day validity of Proclamation 216 ends on July 22, two days before the President’s second State of the Nation Address.

    Drilon said Panelo’s advise to the President to just issue a new proclamation, if and when Congress does not approve an extension, was “an affront to the Constitution.”

    He cited Section 18, Article VII of the Constitution, which provides that “upon the initiative of the President, the Congress may, in the same manner, extend such proclamation or suspension for a period to be determined by the Congress, if the invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it.”

    Sen. Francis Escudero echoed this, saying: “I hope the legal advisers of the President will exercise more prudence instead of advising him ‘trailblazing legal theories’ that may raise more constitutional issues than settling them.”

    But on Thursday, Panelo clarified that the President will have to request Congress to allow an extension “if he wants to extend it.”

    “I said if Congress doesn’t do anything and there’s a request, then if the President feels that it is necessary to declare martial law he will have to declare. That is his constitutional duty. Because I do not think that the framers of the Constitution intended the President to be tied on one particular declaration of martial law. Marami namang (there are plenty of) safeguards,” he said.

    Military recommendation out next week

    The military’s recommendation to extend martial law in Mindanao will be submitted by the end of next week to President Duterte, before Proclamation 216 expires, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said on Thursday.

    Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr., spokesman for the AFP, said ground commanders would first conduct an assessment if it would be necessary for the Chief Executive to extend the 60-day declaration.

    with DEMPSEY REYES

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