Former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay warned on December 9 the “unconstitutional” extension of martial law in Mindanao for one more year, as proposed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, based on “fake grounds.”
Hilbay said that a martial law declaration requires “actual rebellion,” not “fake grounds.”
“It’s UNCONSTITUTIONAL to extend martial law in Mindanao long after gov’t had declared victory. The Consti requires ACTUAL invasion/rebellion,” Hilbay said in a tweet.
“If we allow martial law extension in Mindanao on FAKE grounds, we make it easier to declare NATIONWIDE martial law on another fake basis,” he added.
His tweet came after AFP spokesperson Major General Restituto Padilla Jr. said that the military recommends to “similary” support the recommendation of the Philippine National Police to extend the martial law in Mindanao for another year.
“The recommendation, I don’t have the details of as to the length, but as far as I am concerned, there is a recommendation to similarly support the recommendation of the Philippine National Police,” Padilla told Malacañang reporters.
“But I am not privy to the whole report and I am not at liberty to discuss whatever it is that has been placed in the recommendation, until such time that the decision has been made. It is for Mindanao area,” he added.
But President Rodrigo Duterte has not yet acted on these recommendations from the PNP and AFP.
The Department of Interior and Local Government said they endorsed the PNP’s recommendation, according to a statement by Interior officer-in-charge Catalino Cuy.
Interior assistant secretary Jonathan Malaya said that martial law is still needed to counter the continuing terror threat in Mindanao from the Maute members who are not yet caught and to secure the ongoing Marawi rehabilitation.
Duterte declared Martial Law in Mindanao on May 23 after the fighting between the military and the Maute terrorists erupted in Marawi City.
The 1987 Philippine Constitution stated that martial law declaration may last for 60 days, but before it ended in July 22, Congress approved its extension, upon Duterte’s recommendation, to December 31, 2017.
The government declared victory in the Marawi war on October 23 after 154 days of fighting, but security officials said Maute sympathizers might retaliate.
Padilla also said one of the bases for the martial law extension was the continued threat from armed elements in Mindanao.
In an earlier interview in November, Duterte said he would decide to extend or lift martial law based on the military’s recommendation.
HUDCC chair Eduardo del Rosario, also serving as the chairperson of Task Force Bangon Marawi, said that he also supported the extension of martial law in Mindanao to stop terror threats from disrupting the city’s restoration.
Just like Hilbay’s statement, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said that the AFP and PNP’s recommendations on the martial law extension have “no factual and legal basis and is patently unconstitutional.”
He cited Section 18, Article VII of the Constitution said that martial law can be lifted or extended “if the invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it.”
And to see whether rebellion exists, Drilon said it would require an “examination of facts not just to show the persistence of rebellion but also that there is danger to public safety.”
Drilon’s fellow senators in the minority bloc, Senators Risa Hontiveros, Bam Aquino, Antonio Trillanes IV, and Francis Pangilinan, opposed the martial law extension, too.
Along with Drilon, they said that martial law and the military air strikes were the reason why Marawi residents left their homes in the earlier part of the siege. And it is the same reason why they are scared to return even in the areas cleared by the government forces.
“As security forces reign supreme during martial law, would not military rule actually get in the way of a people-centered rebuilding and rehabilitating of the once vibrant city,” said the minority bloc in a statement.