MANILA - The Commission on Human Rights on Tuesday rejected a proposal to extend martial law in Mindanao for a third time.
Both the leadership of the military and national police said they will recommend prolonging martial law in the south due to the "lurking" threat of terrorism.
"Hindi po kailangan ang martial law powers sa Mindanao o saang mang bahagi ng Pilipinas dahil kaya at sapat na ang kapangyarihan ng Presidente," CHR chairman Chito Gascon told reporters.
(Martial law powers in Mindanao or any other part of the Philippines are unnecessary because the powers of the President are enough.)
Authorities, he said, should explain the threats they are citing to justify another year of martial law.
President Rodrigo Duterte initially declared military rule 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.
Lawmakers late last year voted to extend martial law throughout 2018 to quell alleged terrorist threats. This second extension is scheduled to end on December 31.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, however, said another extension can only be justified by rebellion or lawlessness, not terrorism or public clamor, as cited by military Chief of Staff Gen. Carlito Galvez.
Prolonging martial law would also be an admission that the government "failed to achieve the objective of the [first] 2 extensions," he said.
Lagman also noted that the executive branch has yet to make a recommendation on the issue, even when Congress is due to adjourn for Christmas in 2 weeks.
Meanwhile, Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate expressed fear that the extension could lead to an expansion of martial law over other parts of the country.
"Ang problema kasi dito it may appear the declaration of martial law parang unlimited na depending on the whims and caprice of the military," he added.
(The problem here is that it may appear as if the declaration of martial law is unlimited depending on the whims and caprice of the military.)
Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano also warned that martial law "is for emergency and temporary cases only" and "should never be treated as something ordinary and lasting."
A third extension of martial law, he said, may also create an appearance of instability that can drive away investors and businesses, said the soldier-turned-lawmaker.
With a report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News