Extending Mindanao martial law until December illegal: Lagman

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 18 2017 09:08 PM

Government soldiers store seized combat weapons in bags presented at a news conference on Tuesday in Marawi City. Military operations continue against elements of the Maute group entrenched in the center of the city. Jorge Silva, Reuters

MANILA- Extending martial law in Mindanao until December of this year would be a violation of the Constitution, a lawmaker said Tuesday.

Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman said no extension of military rule should be longer than the original declaration of 60 days.

“That plan to extend the duration of martial law up to the end of the year is in violation of the Constitution because we should understand that the original proclamation is limited to 60 days only,” he said in a phone interview on ANC’s “Dateline Philippines.”

Malacañang on Tuesday said President Rodrigo Duterte has decided to ask Congress for an extension of martial law in Mindanao since “he has come to the conclusion” that the siege in Marawi City would not reach its end by July 22, the deadline for the 60-day period of the initial martial law proclamation.

Duterte placed the entire island of Mindanao under military rule last May 23 after clashes between state forces and Maute extremists erupted in the Islamic city of Marawi.

Under the Constitution, the President may declare martial law for a a period not exceeding 60 days in case of invasion or rebellion, and when the public safety requires it.

The Constitution, however, also states that “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.”

Lagman said that if extension will be permitted, only one extension should be allowed and should not be more than 60 days.

“And no extension should be more than the original duration of 60 days…I think one extension would be sufficient. That would be the limit,” he said.

The Supreme Court earlier this month affirmed Duterte's declaration of martial law in Mindanao. Eleven justices voted to uphold the president's declaration over all of Mindanao; two justices voted to limit the declaration to Marawi City and the rest of Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, and Sulu; one voted to limit the declaration to Marawi City, the conflict zone. 

A lone justice, meanwhile, voted to nullify the proclamation altogether.

Lagman, one of the petitioners against the declaration of martial law in Mindanao, said they will still push through with their appeal of the High Court’s decision.

“We are going to push through with our motion for reconsideration which is due on Friday,” he said.