MANILA - The Liberal Party on Thursday said there was no need to impose martial law over the rest of the country after President Rodrigo Duterte placed Mindanao under military control to quell the Maute terror group in Marawi City.
This even as it expressed "critical and guarded" support for the declaration over Mindanao amid the terror group's rampage.
"While we have given our critical and guarded support for the martial law declaration in order to defeat the Maute/Hapilon group in Marawi, we do not believe that martial law should be declared in the Visayas or Luzon," said Liberal Party president Sen. Francis Pangilinan said in a statement.
"While there may be isolated terrorist acts in these areas, there exists no Visayas-wide nor a Luzon-wide invasion or rebellion to merit the declaration of martial law as allowed under our constitution," said the lawmaker, a member of the Senate minority bloc.
President Duterte had placed Mindanao under martial rule following clashes between government troops and the Maute group on Tuesday.
Upon arrival from his shortened official trip to Russia, Duterte said he might expand coverage of the military rule to Visayas in case of a spillover of terror activities to the area.
He also said he would further extend the declaration to Luzon "if I think that the ISIS (Islamic State) has already taken foothold also in Luzon, and terrorism is not really far behind."
The president is constitutionally mandated to report his martial law declaration to Congress within 48 hours. The legislature has the power to either uphold or revoke the imposition of military rule.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said the executive branch has invited senators to a briefing the President's declaration.
"We will find out through the briefing if there is a basis, (but) I don't see it today," Drilon said in an interview.
Akbayan Sen. Risa Hontiveros meanwhile said aside from the briefing, key officials from the Executive branch may also be invited to the Senate to further explain details of Duterte's order.
Clashes erupted anew in Marawi City Thursday as government launched air strikes against the Maute group, with some 30 to 40 members still in the area.
As of posting time, at least 2 policemen, 5 soldiers, and 13 terrorists have died, whiles scores have been reported wounded due to gunfights.