CHR respects Duterte, Congress extension of martial law
(The Philippine Star) - December 15, 2017 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) reiterated its position against the extension of martial law in Mindanao, but said it respects the prerogative of the government to do so.

“The CHR respects the prerogative of the President, as well as the subsequent vote of Congress, to extend the declaration of martial law in Mindanao. We, however, continue to stress the need to address accounts of human rights violations on the ground,” the CHR said.

“Consistent with our stance, the Commission believes that the police and military can address threats of terrorism and lawless violence without martial law,” it added.

The CHR said they are hoping the intent of the extension will not be tarnished by human rights violations.

“It is now incumbent upon the government to observe and ensure the safeguards of the Constitution and our laws to prevent abuses,” it said.

“The commission, for its part, will closely monitor its implementation and denounce any form of abuses, consistent with our mandate and oath of service to the Filipino people.”

A ranking official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said President Duterte might be suffering from the “intoxicating effects” of power when he ordered the one-year extension of martial law in Mindanao. 

CBCP Episcopal Commission on Laity chairman Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said Duterte is “boasting” again after the “subservient” Congress supported his call to extend martial law in Mindanao for one more year.

“This is what we get when we toy with power. One is never contented with enough power. It gobbles more power – unless people stand up and voice out – it is enough! This is not right! 

“Once one has tasted power, it is hard to say it is enough. This is true for Duterte, this is true for the police and this is true for the armed forces,” Pabillo said.

Critics argued that an extension of martial law requires actual rebellion and in its absence, implementing military rule would be unconstitutional.

“They give a veneer of legality to martial law but they are making the abnormal normal, the extraordinary ordinary,” Pabillo said.

He warned the extension is “conditioning the minds” of the people that martial law is alright and normal.

“Authoritarianism is creeping surreptitiously among us – unless we react and say ‘do we really need it?’” Pabillo said.

“We cannot remain silent in front of the machinations of Congress who are acting not as representative of the people but of the one in power. Congress can no longer be trusted that they serve the interest of the people,” he added.

The militant Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) took to task presidential spokesman Harry Roque.

Roque earlier said “there would be no return of a dictatorial government” and human rights violations will not be repeated under Duterte’s martial law.

“Martial law is martial law, no matter how they sugarcoat it, it is still the same Marcos-military rule that suppressed the civil and liberty rights of the Filipino people and paved the way for a blatant plunder of public coffers,” Pamalakaya chairman Fernando Hicap said.

“The presidential spokesman is deodorizing the Mindanao martial law in order to make it appear acceptable to the people and to prepare the public for a nationwide authoritarian rule; something that the Filipino people will not let happen,” he said.

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