MANILA - Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said Wednesday it was time to lift martial law in Mindanao.
"We cannot tolerate an 'unli' martial law. The continued placing of Mindanao under martial law would set a dangerous precedent, not to mention its economic and social implications," Drilon said in a statement.
Drilon said it has been "too long" since martial law was declared in Mindanao.
"Is martial law now the new norm in Mindanao?" Drilon asked.
"There is no perpetual martial law. There must be an end to this. As I said before, martial law is like an antibiotic, and antibiotic, when used excessively, becomes ineffective," he said.
Drilon's statements came following the recommendation of National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Jr. last Tuesday to extend martial law in the island for at least another year.
The veteran senator explained the framers of the Constitution understood the danger of a prolonged martial law, hence the 60-day limit and a regular review by Congress which he said are clearly provided in the Constitution.
Section 18 of Article VII of the 1987 Constitution allows the President to place any part of the country under martial law for a period not exceeding 60 days.
The same section provides 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."
Drilon said there is nothing that shows actual rebellion and armed uprising in Mindanao to justify the extension.
Even Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, the lawmaker recalled, was considering asking that her city be exempted from martial law.
Drilon called on the government to "study the situation in Mindanao and consider the dangerous mindset the continued declaration of martial law in Mindanao may give rise to."