Opposition lawmakers at the House of Representatives have warned against extending the 60-day declaration of martial law and suspension of the writ of habeas corpus (warrantless arrest) in Mindanao that they said rested on uncertain grounds at best.
Reps. Teddy Baguilat of Ifugao and Tomas Villarin of Akbayan party-list, petitioners against President Rodrigo Duterte’s Proclamation 216, issued a day after the Supreme Court affirmed the legality of Duterte’s martial law which was declared as a result of the Marawi City siege perpetrated by terrorist Maute group.
“We opposed Duterte’s creeping authoritarian rule and the Supreme Court decision will embolden him to expand martial law,” Villarin told reporters.
“Our contention is that we can effectively fight terrorists and rebels even without the extraordinary powers of martial law. The administration has to justify how one month of martial law rule in Mindanao was successful in quelling the uprising in Maute and improving the security situation in the islands,” Baguilat added.
Since Duterte’s martial law declaration last May 23, the military has yet to fully retake Marawi City from the Maute group.
Villarin also disclosed that he was filing a House Resolution seeking to investigate human rights abuses and excesses committed under Duterte’s martial rule.
Villarin cited accounts by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) in Lanao which has reported that it was “utterly shocked, to use a milder term, by sheer magnitude of wanton disregard of sanctity of domicile, the right against deprivation of property without due process of the law, the right to be sure in one’s person, house, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures and the privacy of communication and correspondence of innocent civilians committed by the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police.”
“Congress cannot just gloss over this account of IBP as it hastens to do the bidding of Malacañang for a possible extension of martial law,” Villarin added.
Under the Constitution, the President can only declare martial law and suspend the writ of habeas corpus in cases of rebellion, invasion or when public safety requires it.
The Constitution mandates Congress to review the President’s martial law declaration which is only limited to 60 days. Likewise, Congress is empowered to revoke such declaration in a joint session—a revocation that cannot be set aside by the President.
But in Duterte’s case, both the House and the Senate decided not to convene in a joint session and instead adopted a resolution, respectively, supporting the President’s declaration of martial law.