Duterte allies in Congress support martial law; opposition calls for vigilance

Malacanang allies in Congress supported the President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao Tuesday while the opposition called for the public to remain vigilant.

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said, “Tama lang yun. Maaaring yung kaguluhan ay nasa Marawi ngayon pero yung mga terorista (That’s just right. The chaos might only be in Marawi right now but the terrorists) I think are everywhere. I’m sure everywhere in Mindanao and if not sa buong Pilipinas (in the entire Philippines).”

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said Congress will wait for the report of Duterte and its justification in declaring martial law in Mindanao.

“There is no question that the violence perpetrated by the Maute gang of terrorists allegedly in connivance with Abu Sayyaf has to be met by the corresponding force of the government to insure public safety of the residents of Mindanao and the tourists visiting the island,” he added.

The president has to submit to Congress a report either in person or in writing within 48 hours after proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.

Senator Risa Hontiveros urged President Duterte “to explain the reason why Martial Law was declared over the whole of Mindanao, including Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.”

“I urge President Duterte to adhere to the principle of proportionality and responsibility in addressing this serious security concern. There is no doubt that the Maute group should be punished for its atrocities. This however should not be done at the expense of the people’s basic rights,” Hontiveros said.

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV questioned the coverage of the proclamation, which covers the whole of Mindanao.

“Sa lahat ng impormasyon na nakukuha natin, ay yung kaguluhan ay di lumalabas sa Marawi. So in short hindi warranted ng martial law sa buong Mindanao. Kung sakali man na hinihingi din ito ng Armed Forces which hindi naman hinihingi dapat dun lang sa area of conflict. Kaya ngayon inaantay natin yung Malacanang kasi within 48 hours kelangan nilang magbigay ng report. But definitely yung pag declare ng ML for the whole of Mindanao ay hindi kinakailangan. (Based on all the information we got, the conflict didn’t spill out of Marawi. If the Armed Forces asked for it, which they didn’t, it should be confined to the area of conflict. That’s why we are waiting for Malacanang because within 48 hours, they have to give us a report. But definitely the declaration should not be for the whole of Mindanao),” he said.

Senator Bam Aquino also said the protection of residents in Marawi City should be ensured.

“Sa pagkakaalam ko po, madami nang nage-evacuate ngayon at kailangan po nila ng tulong at pagkalinga mula sa gobyerno at mula sa iba’t iba pang mga grupo (As far as I know, many have already evacuated and they need help and care from the government and from other groups,)” Aquino said.

“Under these severe circumstances, we respect the president’s decision to declare martial law, but will ensure that the constitutional process is followed,” he added.

Zubiri, meanwhile, said we should rally behind the president.

“This is a time for unity and courage. We should show our people and the whole world that the Philippines is no place for terrorists. We have to use all constitutional means to suppress lawlessness and, once and for all, eradicate terrorism from our land without disregarding the paramount safety of the civilian population. We should fully support the AFP and PNP in fighting and neutralizing these terrorists and place them before the bar of law. These terrorists should fully account for the man-made disaster they are creating and the miseries they are causing the people of Marawi City,” he said.

Senator Manny Pacquiao appealed to civilians not only in Marawi City but in the entire country to stay calm and vigilant because the military and the police are doing appropriate actions to restore the stability and order in the area.

Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano expressed concern that the declaration was for the entire Mindanao when the Maute attacks are confined only in Lanao del Sur.

“Citing security problems, aside from Maute, in Western and Central Mindanao as the reasons why the declaration covers the entire Mindanao is something that we should consider deeply because those security issues have been there for the longest time. This may mean that Martial law could extend much longer than intended,” Alejano said.

He also urged the public to remain vigilant so that the declaration would not be abused like what happened in the 70s.

Former Magdalo representative Ashley Acedillo said the safety of all civilians is paramount in addressing the situation in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur.

“We must not allow our fear to take over and surrender vigilance to the false sense of security that a Martial Law declaration brings. Once we do so, we may soon realize that the cure is worse than the disease. By the time we find out that something is amiss, it is already too late. We cannot afford to be wrong again,” he said.