No justification for martial law extension, says ex-Solgen Hilbay

Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 11 2017 04:33 PM | Updated as of Dec 11 2017 04:56 PM

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MANILA - There is no justification for the extension of the martial law President Rodrigo Duterte declared over Mindanao since the government and military has already declared victory and started rehabilitation of the war-torn areas, former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay said Monday.

There is "no such thing as a preventive martial law," and the Supreme Court, in its decision upholding Duterte's declaration, already said there "has to be an actual invasion or rebellion," said Hilbay.

"If the President has already declared and military has already declared victory in Marawi against the rebels there, then you’re now moving into rehabilitation phase, for which there is entirely no need or justification for another martial law," he told ANC's Headstart.

Hilbay said martial law is not necessary even if there is continuing lawless violence in the southern region because the President can simply use his power to call the military.

"The President can do without the constraints of the House or of the Senate; so long as he thinks it is necessary, he can exercise that power," he said.

But in his letter to Congress, Duterte cited a lingering terror threat in Mindanao, as well as the armed insurgency of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) as reasons for seeking the martial law extension.

House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez, who is supportive of the extension, claimed there had been no reports of abuses by the military, unlike the martial law of the Marcos years.

"Ika nga, this is a martial law na may puso," he said.

Duterte in May declared martial law following the attack of the ISIS-inspired Maute terror group in Marawi City. He eventually sought an extension after the 60-day period mandated by the Constitution.

Congress approved to extend martial law until December 31.

Congress may have a joint session on Thursday or Friday to tackle a possible extension, said Fariñas.