Sen. Francis Escudero said martial law is becoming a “new norm” to implement peace and order in a perceived lawless area.
AP Photo/Bullit Marquez
Francis Escudero: ‘Is martial law the new normal in Mindanao?’
Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - December 13, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Lawmakers who voted against extending martial law in Mindanao for another year blasted Congress, saying there was no legal basis for its approval.

Sen. Francis Escudero said martial law is becoming a “new norm” to implement peace and order in a perceived lawless area.

“Mindanao can achieve and has already achieved progress and peace through the efforts of the administration – not because of martial law, because it can do and not do the same things with or without martial law. Can we not maintain this norm without resorting to extraordinary measures?” Escudero told the plenary during the joint session of Congress yesterday.

Escudero stressed there was no strong basis to extend martial law again, saying invasion and actual rebellion are the only reasons stated in the 1987 Constitution to justify its continued implementation.

“Rebellion and invasion, and not maintaining peace and order, not improving the economy and not because the people want it will be the basis for martial law,” he said.

Sen. Franklin Drilon also remarked the repeated extension of martial law appears to be the “new normal in Mindanao.”

“If martial law is reduced to become part of Mindanao’s everyday reality, what recourse do we have left if, despite such military rule, the problem in Mindanao is not solved?” he said.

Drilon stressed based on the 1987 Constitution and the Supreme Court ruling upholding the President’s May 2017 martial law declaration, the imposition or extension of martial rule requires the “actual existence of rebellion or uprising for the purpose of removing a territory from the nation.”

Drilon said there was nothing in Duterte’s letter-request to Congress and in the briefings given by military and police officials showing the existence of actual rebellion or uprising in Mindanao.

He said the statement of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana that the continuation of martial law would be a “psychological warfare” against terrorists and criminal groups is not a ground for extension.

He likened the government’s consistent resort to martial law to taking an antibiotic. 

“It (antibiotic) is resorted to only when ordinary over-the-counter drugs have ceased to work. Unlimited resort to this powerful medicine desensitizes the body and eventually no longer becomes effective in providing the protection that it was designed to give,” Drilon said. –  With Jess Diaz

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