Makabayan bloc hopes for level-headed decision on martial law extension


Posted at Jul 18 2017 08:33 PM


MANILA - As it is up to Congress to either extend martial law in Mindanao or let the 60-day declaration lapse, lawmakers from the leftist Makabayan bloc hope their colleagues would not railroad the chamber's decision when the legislature holds a special joint session on Saturday.

Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao said he hopes lawmakers would truly exercise its oversight function.

"Walang sagasaan. Allow a very comprehensive and substantive deliberation on the merits and demerits on whether or not to extend [martial law]," he said in a press conference Tuesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella earlier said Duterte wants to extend martial law in Mindanao until December 31, 2017. He had declared a 60-day martial rule on May 23, when clashes between government troops and the Islamic State-linked Maute Group erupted in Marawi City.

The declaration will lapse before Duterte delivers his second State of the Nation Address on July 24. 

Casilao said Congress should be thorough in reviewing not only reports of those implementing martial law, but also narrations by civilians and other stakeholders.

He said the Makabayan bloc would be presenting cases of human rights violations committed under martial law in Mindanao on Saturday.

For his part, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said Congress should decide independently and based on facts, and not just based on the assessment of the President.

"Review power ito ng Congress, hindi na ito pag-determine ng Executive kung kailangan ng martial law o hindi. 'Di na ito sakop ng poder ng Presidente," he added.

While Duterte wants to extend martial law in Mindanao until the end of 2017, ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio said Congress would be the one to determine the period of extension, if the the majority would favor it.

"Kahit sa sulat niya sinasabi December 31, assuming na sasang-ayon ang Congress sa extension, Congress ang magtatakda kung gaano katagal ito," said Tinio

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez earlier said he was positive that passing a measure extending martial law would go on smoothly, citing wide public support.

"Nakita naman natin in all surveys, talagang pabor ang taumbayan sa declaration of martial law sa Mindanao. Na-appreciate nila kung gaano kabigat 'yung problema," he said. 

While part of the House majority, the Makabayan bloc has said it would reevaluate its "tactical alliance" with the President following his martial law declaration.

More than 500 have died while roughly 300,000 have fled Marawi and nearby areas since firefights erupted in May.