MANILA, Philippines — Only President Rodrigo Duterte can seek an extension of martial law, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said on Tuesday amid suggestions to this effect by other officials.
“Ang stand ko kasi d’yan dapat ‘yong pangulo ang nagre-request ng extension. ‘Yon po ang sabi ng Constitution…‘Yong request ay manggagaling sa presidente, hindi manggagaling kahit kanino man (My stand is it is the president who should request for an extension. That is what the Constitution says … The request should come from the president and should not come from anyone else),” Pimentel said in a radio interview.
He also urged people not to get ahead of themselves and wait for what Duterte might ask of Congress regarding martial law in Mindanao, which he declared for 60 days beginning May 23, when fighting broke out between extremist gunmen and government forces in Marawi City.
The fighting is continuing and the military has acknowledged it might still be going on by the time Duterte delivers his second state of the nation address on July 24.
Asked if an extension of martial law extension could extend beyond the 60 days mentioned in the Constitution, Pimentel said the wording of the Charter indicates this is possible.
“Hindi naman sinabi doon na sundin ang original (60-day) period. Sabi doon Kongreso po ang magde-decide kung gaano kahaba (It did not say that the original period should be followed. It says Congress will decide how long the extension will be),” he said.
Section 18, Article 7 of the Constitution says: “Upon the initiative of the President, the Congress may, in the same manner, extend such proclamation or suspension for a period to be determined by the Congress, if the invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it.”
Earlier, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said he wanted martial law to last for five more years but the military said this was too long.
Pimentel also downplayed concerns raised by Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio that Duterte’s martial law could end up like the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos’, which was marked by massive human rights violations and plunder of the country’s wealth.
Pimentel said the Marawi crisis is real, not like the communist bogey Marcos used to justify his declaration of martial law in 1972.
He also said the Constitution is different now as review mechanisms for martial law are in place.
“Talaga dapat ina-approach natin ‘yan case-to-case. Hindi ibig sabihin na dahil masama experience natin sa martial law under Marcos, magiging gano’n din ang experience natin sa martial law under Duterte (We should approach this case-to-case. It does not mean that just because our experience of martial law under Marcos was bad, it would be the same experience of martial law under Duterte.),” he said.
“Iba na po ang leader. Iba na po ang nag-deklara ng martial law. Iba na po motivation niya (Our leader is different now. The person who declared martial law is different now. His motivation is different now),” he added.