Drilon: Don't use Mindanao martial law to push for Human Security Act amendments

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
Drilon: Don't use Mindanao martial law to push for Human Security Act amendments
File photo shows Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon.
The STAR / Geremy Pintolo, File

MANILA, Philippines — Whether or not Congress passes amendments to the Human Security Act should have no bearing on whether martial law in Mindanao will be extended beyond the end of 2019, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said Tuesday.

"Do not dangle lifting martial law in Mindanao in exchange for the speedy passage of the Human Security Act," Drilon said in a release.

The minority senator made the comment after Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Monday that Congress’ amendment of the Human Security Act of 2007 would be a "better arrangement" than maintaining martial law.

"I hope they will not use martial law to put pressure on Congress to pass the amendments to the Human Security Act. The non-passage of the amendments to the Human Security Act should not be used as a basis or justification to further extend martial law," Drilon said.

The Senate and the House of Representatives has readily agreed to the executive branch's past requests to extend martial law in Mindanao, which has been in place since May 2017.

He added: "The amendments need thorough debates."

Sens. Panfilo Lacson and Ronald Dela Rosa have sponsored Senate Bill 1083, which would amend the Human Security Act of 2007 to clarify the definition of terrorist acts.

The proposed legislation also seeks to penalize those who participate in the plotting of terrorist acts and prolong the detention of suspected terrorists without an arrest to 14 days.

The counterpart measure at the House, meanwhile, remains pending with the committee on public order and safety.

Human rights groups like Karapatan, however, fear that an amended HSA will bring “deliberate crippling and infringement of the people’s civil and political rights.”

‘Bring back normalcy in Mindanao’

Mindanao has been under martial law since May 2017, following an encounter between government troops and the Maute terror group in Marawi City. Although initially set for 60 days, the declaration of martial law has since been extended upon approval by both chambers of Congress.

Section 18, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution stressed that the Congress may extend the proclamation of martial law if “invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it.”

“That is the only ground for extension of martial law. But it is clear since day one that the martial law or its extension in Mindanao has no basis,” Drilon said.

He added: “It is high time that we lift [it and] bring back normalcy in the region.”

Lorenzana on Monday said he is not personally keen on recommending the extension of martial law in the southern Philippines for the fourth time, saying it has been implemented for “too long.”

The Defense secretary, however, said he would wait for the recommendation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police before he decides.

Police Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac, Philippine National Police spokesperson, on Tuesday said the police are inclined to recommend the lifting of martial law in Mindanao.

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