Lawmakers hit 5-month extension of martial law

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SOME lawmakers criticized Congress’ approval of the five-month extension of martial law in Mindanao, saying that it violates the constitution and paves the way for abuse of the power that enables its imposition.

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During the special joint session of Congress held on Saturday, Rep. Jose “Lito” Atienza of Buhay Party-list said that the five-month extension runs contrary to the 1987 Constitution.

“Why are we requesting for an extension of 150 days from the original 60 days? Why not 60 days as required by our basic law of the land?” he asked.

“Kung ito po ay papayagan natin [If we will allow this], the very essence of the 1987 limitation will be defeated,” he maintained.

“If the extension is longer than the original 60 (days), what would stop any president—I’m not even referring to President Duterte—from extending the initial 60 days to 15 years?” he added.

In response, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said the executive department will no longer ask for another extension.

“If we ask for a shorter period and we have not yet achieved what we want to achieve, we can no longer go back to Congress and ask for an extension. We’d rather ask for a longer period… we can no longer ask for an extension after this one.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Teddy Baguilat, Jr. of Ifugao said the five-month extension granted by Congress is dangerous because it could serve as a “springboard” for extending the coverage of martial law beyond Mindanao.

“We were made to accept hook, line and sinker that extreme authoritarian measures are needed to deal with banditry, drug menace, terrorist threats and even a communist movement under the general ambit of rebellion,” Baguilat said.

“This is dangerous as it becomes a springboard for expansion of ML [martial law]beyond Mindanao,” the lawmaker added.

He lamented that the constitutional requirement of having actual invasion and rebellion as basis for declaring martial law “has been bastardized.”

“Besides, the options were extreme: either we accept extension to five months or not. The suggestion to shorten the period or reduce the scope of martial law should have been given consideration,” Baguilat said.

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