SEVERAL lawmakers said Sunday they would back the extension of martial law beyond 60 days should the need arise.
“We will work on extending martial law in Mindanao... President Rodrigo Duterte deserves the support of Congress to finally end the Marawi crisis,” said Batangas Rep. Raneo Abu. “We believe on the Chief Executive’s determination to end the conflict, and [that] he has no tendency of abusing his authority.”
Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers said he understands the openness of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to extend the 60-day period of martial law in Mindanao because of the ongoing fighting in Marawi City.
“I will support any extension as long as there is still an imminent threat of terrorism, rebellion and invasion perpetrated by ISIS, Maute group and Abu Sayyaf Group,” he said.
Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone said he does not see any problem should martial law be extended as long as it is needed.
“Who are we to refuse if the conditions warrant a prolonged martial law to save lives?” Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III said.
Parañaque City Rep. Gus Tambunting said, he too, would not object to an extension if martial law remains necessary and the situation is still not under control.
“That’s for the President to declare. If he does, Congress will support him,” Kabayan Rep. Harry Roque said.
But Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza underscored the need to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the martial law situation in Marawi City.
“We will assess first the situation, it is still a month away,” he said.
The 60-day martial law declaration will lapse on July 22 after the President’s declaration on May 23.
The group of Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman has questioned the President’s martial law declaration before the Supreme Court.
The Court has ordered the consolidation of two petitions seeking to compel Congress to convene in a joint session to review President Duterte’s martial law proclamation and his suspension of the write of habeas corpus in Mindanao.
In a resolution released to the media over the weekend, the Court said it would consolidate the petitions filed by former senators Rene Saguisag and Wigberto Tañada.
The justices also ordered the Office of the Solicitor General, as counsel for respondents Senate President Aquilino L. Pimentel III and House Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez to submit its comments on the petitions within 10 days.
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte issued Proclamation No. 216, on May 23 declaring a state of martial law and suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in the whole of Mindanao. This was a result of the attack of the Maute group in Marawi City, which is still ongoing and is the subject of military operations.
On May 29, the Senate, voting 17-5, filed a resolution “not to revoke the declaration at this time” while the House of Representatives issued a resolution supporting President Duterte’s declaration on May 31.
On June 15, the Court ended three days of oral arguments on three consolidated petitions challenging the constitutionality of Duterte’s martial law proclamation.
These were filed by opposition lawmakers led by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, local Mindanao leaders led by lumad leader Eufemia Campos Cullamat and a group of women from Marawi led by Norkaya Mohamad.
The high court required all parties to submit their memoranda Monday, after which the case is deemed submitted for decision before July 5.
On Sunday, the Palace said the President would declare martial law again if an attack similar to Marawi takes place.
At the same time, the President has made it clear that he would heed the decision of the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of his martial law declaration, Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said.
But on Saturday, the President slammed critics of martial law.
“If they… tell me there is no factual basis [for martial law], then I am ready to order the military to withdraw, and we will not move,” he said, speaking before the 4th Infantry Division in Butuan City.
“These justices, judges, arguing terrorism not rebellion. What do you want? That they burn half of Mindanao before we can call it a true blue rebellion? It’s crazy. It’s rebellion,” said Duterte.