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Senate minority opposes extension of Duterte’s martial law in Mindanao

Members of the Senate minority bloc on Friday expressed their opposition to a martial law extension in Mindanao, saying a military rule may hinder a needed “people-centered” rehabilitation in Marawi City.

“We, members of the minority, support the position of Mindanaoans for no martial law extension in their home island,” they said in a statement.

The statement was issued by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, and Senators Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, Antonio Trillanes IV, and Risa Hontiveros.

They said lifting martial law in Mindanao, especially in Marawi, will hasten the return of displaced residents to their homes.

“Martial law, together with the air strikes, was the reason why they fled Marawi in the early days of the Maute siege. And martial law is also the reason why they are afraid to return, even in cleared areas,” they said.

“After the pronounced liberation of Marawi and the announced focus on rehabilitation and trade, what will be the role of the people of Marawi in the planning and rehabilitation of their city? What guarantees do they have that they can return to their old location and start life anew?” they added.

In a separate statement, Drilon further said that a second extension of martial law in Mindanao is “unconstitutional” and has “no legal basis.”

“We cannot continuously place Mindanao under martial law and suspend the privilege of the writ without an actual rebellion in the region,” Drilon said.

Citing Section 18, Article VII of the Constitution, Drilon said that the provision on the revocation or extension of the proclamation of martial law is clear and specific, which is “if the invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it.”

“The mandate of the Constitution is clear – martial law may be declared if actual rebellion exists and Congress may extend the declaration if the rebellion persists,” Drilon said.

“As we see it today, however, the grounds for a continued martial law in Mindanao, as cited by the AFP and PNP in the media, do not meet the requirements of the Constitution,” he said.

A 60-day martial law was initially declared by Duterte in Mindanao on May 23 following the attack of the Maute group in Marawi City.

Last July 22, Congress, in special session, overwhelmingly approved President Rodrigo Duterte’s request to extend martial in Mindanao until December 31, 2017.

Marawi has been declared “liberated from terrorist influence” by Duterte last October 17. Despite this, however, both the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) have recommended to Duterte the extension of martial law in Mindanao.

“As security forces reign supreme during martial law, would not military rule actually get in the way of a people-centered rebuilding and rehabilitating of the once vibrant city? What is the need for martial law? Would martial law suspend bidding in the reconstruction of the city?” the minority senators asked.

Congress would have to convene another special session if and when Duterte makes a formal request to extend martial law. —NB/RSJ, GMA News