On Saturday, July 22, the two chambers of Congress in joint session voted 261 for and 18 against the President’s proposal to extend martial law in Mindanao until Dec. 31, 2017. Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon was one of four senators who voted against it. Here’s his explanation.
I voted NO to the extension of Martial Law in the whole of Mindanao, an extension which will last up to 31 December 2017.
Mr. President, if this Congress gives full and unqualified assent for the continued martial law in the endtire Mindanao, where there is no evidence of actual rebellion outside or Marwi City, then we might have just been reduced to a mere echo chamber. We would then have abdicated our duty under the Constitution to allow Martial Law only in cases of actual rebellion and when public safety requires it.
If we shirk from our role as the supreme policy-making body and allow, without any basis, the extension of martial law in the entire Mindanao, tomorrow we will wake up with martial law being declared in the entire country, under the justification of an existing rebellion in Marawi City and the threat, however remote, of rebellious activity spilling over other parts of the country.
The factual basis for a continued martial rule in Mindanao and an extension of up do December 31, 2017 do not meet the requirements of the Constitution.
The mandate of the Constitution is clear – martial law may be declared only if actual rebellion exists and Congress may extend the declaration if that rebellion persists. Congress is given plenary power to decide on the period of extension based on such determination.
Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, there is no evidence presented to establish the necessity of placing the entire Mindanao under martial law. The President’s Request for Extension mentioned only 10 out of 27 provinces in Mindanao. Martial law should be limited to those places where actual rebellion continues to exist.
Moreover, if you could recall public statements made by our security sector and the President himself that significant progress made against the rebels in a span of two months, why is he asking up to December 31, 2017 as an extension.
We are one with the Filipino people in supporting the military’s efforts to neutralize the Maute extremists at the soonest possible time. With the facts presented to us, however, we are confident that our military will be successful in resolving the crisis for a period of time shorter than the end of the year. We also remain faithful to the Constitution in recommending that the extension will be limited only to the areas directly affected in Mindanao. History will judge us on whether we fulfilled our mandate under the Constitution and acted in the interest of the people we represent.