11 Negros solons vote yes to extension of martial law

Thursday, December 14, 2017

All of Negros Island's representatives, except Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano of Sipalay City, yesterday voted to extend martial law in Mindanao for the entire 2018 .

They along with the majority of the members of the Senate and House of Representatives, in a joint session, granted President Rodrigo Duterte's request to extend martial law and suspend the privilege of writ of habeas corpus from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2018.

It was a 14-4 vote in the Senate, and 226-23 in the Lower House in favor of the extension of martial law.

San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza said “rather than martial law, government should focus their efforts on the support of all of us, particularly the Church sector, in addressing the root causes of rebellion – social inequality and injustice which has a long history.”

Alejano said “I believe that the reason behind imposition of martial law and its extension is not to address security problems in the country but to pursue certain political agenda of this administration. This is at our expense, the military, and the Filipino people.”

The representatives of all of the 10 congressional districts in Negros Island voted for the extension of martial law, Rep. Stephen Paduano (AbangLingkod) confirmed.

“I voted yes as almost all of the Mindanao congressmen wanted it. Also I was in Marawi with Cong Albee (Benitez) and locals wanted martial law. Who am I to oppose,” Rep. Arnolfo "Arnie" Teves (Neg. Or., 3 rd District) said.

Rep. Alfredo Abelardo Benitez (Neg. Occ., 3 rd District) said he voted yes because their colleagues from Mindanao expressed strong support for the measure.

Alejano, in explaining his vote, said “I support our Armed Forces and anything that would make them effective in the performance of their mandate.”

But he said he voted no to extension of martial law because the Marawi crisis is over and he sees no basis for the extension of martial law for another year, he said.

“Extension of martial law would run counter to the provisions of 1987 Constitution which states that martial law would be declared when there is actual rebellion or invasion and when public safety requires it. It is clear that no such thing exist,” Alejano said.

Reports on continuing recruitment of terrorists and skirmishes with NPA could not be the basis of imposition of martial law, he added.

He also said there is no stopping the president and the armed forces from going after terrorists even without declaring martial law. Martial law is not equivalent to combat operations, he said.

The military can very well arrest suspected terrorists and search houses during combat operations as what had been done before even in the absence of martial law, he added.

Defense and intelligence infrastructure are in place in the whole of Mindanao and were provided with operational and intelligence funds, Alejano pointed out.

“There is no doubt that an arrest or search warrant could be secured from courts when supported with solid intelligence information. Relying on martial law to arrest a person is short of admitting that intelligence gathering is inefficient. This could lead to shotgun approach or witch hunt,” he said.

“Extending martial law for one year is an admission that civilian authority is not anymore functioning which necessitates military rule,” he added.

”Prolonged exposure of our military to martial law could weaken civilian supremacy over the military which is a fundamental principle of our democracy,” Alejano said.*CPG