The House of Representatives will vote on Wednesday whether to move for the revocation of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Proclamation 216 that declared martial law and suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao.
Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas made the announcement a day before the scheduled briefing by the military on the attacks of the Maute Group in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur. Members of the House will be briefed on the situation in Marawi during an executive session this morning.
“The House will meet as a Committee of the Whole House on Wednesday, 9 a.m., to consider the Report and will decide whether it will move for the revocation of the Proclamation. The Senate, based on my conversation with Majority Leader Tito Sotto, will consider the Report of the President on Monday, 3 p.m.,” Fariñas said in a statement.
He was referring to the report on the declaration of martial law submitted by the President to congress.
“If either House or the Senate finds that there is no need to revoke the martial law proclamation of the President, a joint session may not happen since a joint session needs the concurrence of both houses,” Fariñas noted.
In the event that a majority of each chamber of congress votes for the convening of a joint session, each will adopt a Concurrent Resolution for that purpose. Lawmakers may state their positions in the sessions of the House and Senate when they deliberate on the report of the president, according to Fariñas.
Section 18, Article VIII of the Constitution provides that the House and Senate, voting jointly, may revoke the declaration of martial law or suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.
Various groups have denounced the declaration of martial law in Mindanao, opining that the situation in Marawi City does not warrant its declaration over the whole island.
The Nagkakaisa Labor Coalition (Nagkaisa) on Sunday said that the unqualified declaration of martial law in Mindanao did not only set a dangerous precedent but violated the Constitution.
“The Philippine Constitution under Article 7 Section 18 granted the President the power to declare a state of martial law. But such a declaration should meet certain requirements to justify suppression of lawless violence, invasion or rebellion and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus,” the group said in a statement.
It stressed that the President has the power to address security emergencies but it should not come at the expense of democracy and basic human rights.
“We condemn and will continue to oppose any act of terrorism perpetrated by any group in any part of the country but we will not also disregard the danger posed by unqualified use of military power to deal with security threats at the expense of democracy and basic human rights,” the group said.
It pointed out that the incident in Marawi City was similar to what happened in Zamboanga City in 2013 and in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay in 2011 but martial law was not declared.
The Zamboanga siege lasted for three weeks and left 140 people dead, including 110 members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), 13 soldiers, 5 policemen and 12 civilians.
“In line with this, we find the Moscow declaration of President Duterte placing the entire Mindanao under the state of martial law as worrisome as it came with yet to be qualified basis except for the pockets of violence that erupted yesterday in Marawi City between the military and the combined forces of Maute and Abu Sayaff groups. Why place the entire Mindanao under a state of martial law when the military itself claimed it is in full control of the situation?” the group said.
The presidents of five Ateneo de Manila universities on Sunday called on the government not to abuse its power and act judiciously as it implements martial law in Mindanao.
“A martial law limited in scope, enforced with discipline and restraint, with respect for the Constitution and the inviolability of human rights, can solve specific problems. An unrestrained martial law, one that keeps its decisions and movements quiet and secret from its citizens, unconcerned with human dignity, will only compound the problem it seeks to solve,” the Jesuit leaders said.
The statement was signed by Fr. Jose Ramon Villarin of Ateneo de Manila, Fr. Primitivo Viray Jr. of Ateneo de Naga, Fr. Karel San Juan, Ateneo de Zamboanga, Fr. Joel E. Tabora, Ateneo de Davao, and Fr. Roberto Yap, Xavier University- Ateneo de Cagayan.
They urged the public to be vigilant and to hold public officials accountable for any violation of human rights.
“We expect that the safeguards placed in our Constitution to curb the abuse of power will be respected and followed,” they said.
They also condemned the Maute Group for justifying their assaults through religion.
“The ‘God’ that is claimed to call forth the bombing of innocent men, women and children is a false god, as Pope Francis has repeatedly pointed out,” they said.
WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL AND ELSHA MAE ROBLES