MANILA - An opposition lawmaker said Tuesday he will question before the Supreme Court any official proposal to extend martial law in Mindanao.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said prolonging martial law in the south for the third time is "groundless" because no actual rebellion persists in the region, which is a requirement by the Constitution.
"The entire duration of martial law in Mindanao totals to about 586 days. That's too long. That's a mockery of the constitutional injunction of a short duration for martial law," he told ANC.
President Rodrigo Duterte initially declared martial law in Mindanao when the siege of Marawi City erupted in May 2017. It was valid for 60 days but Congress granted its extension until the end of 2017.
Congress in late 2017 voted to extend martial law throughout 2018 to quell alleged terrorist threats. This second extension is scheduled to end on December 31.
Both the leadership of the military and national police said they will recommend another extension of martial law in Mindanao because of the "lurking" threat of terrorism.
"There is really a clamor for extension considering that terrorism is still lurking in the area," Armed Forces chief General Carlito Galvez said earlier.
Lagman, however, stressed that public clamor is not a constitutional basis for extending martial law. He added that the continuing threat of terrorism, if true, shows martial law has failed in Mindanao.
"A third extension of martial law is an admission that the military and the police have failed to attain the purported objectives of martial law," he said.
Lagman fears an extended martial law will only embolden the military "to make transgressions of the law" as they have already documented human rights violations in Mindanao.
The latest example of these rights violations, he pointed out, is the trumped-up charges against Satur Ocampo and ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro.