Liberal Party senators and congressmen rejected President Duterte’s request to extend Martial Law in Mindanao up to 150 days or until December 31, 2017.
LP Senators Franklin Drilon, Bam Aquino, and Kiko Pangilinan and LP Representatives Kit Belmonte (Quezon City, 6th District), Edcel Lagman (Albay, 1st District), Teddy Baguilat (Ifugao, Lone District), and Gabriel Bordado (Camarines Sur, 3rd District) turned down the 150-day extension, saying it lacks factual basis. However, the joint session of Congress on July 22 approved the 150-day extension with a 261-18 vote.
The LP opposition lawmakers insisted that no evidence was presented to establish the need to place the entire Mindanao under Martial Law and extend it by 150 days. They also claimed that Congress is mandated by law to extend Martial Law by only 60 days and not 150 days.
“Hindi maaaring lumampas sa 60 araw ang deklarasyon ng Martial Law. Hindi ito ang layunin ng Saligang Batas,” said LP president Sen. Francis Pangilinan as he explained his vote on the issue.
“The Congress might just be reduced into a mere echo chamber by allowing the extension of Martial Law without any basis,” said Senate Minority Floor Leader Franklin Drilon.
Sen. Aquino, for his part, said limiting the Martial Law extension to 60 days will not affect the AFP operations against the terrorist groups taking refuge in Marawi City.
Aquino added that Martial Law puts the country’s democracy in an unusual and unstable situation, adding that people must be vigilant against creeping dictatorship.
“Siyempre po boboto tayo sa pagpapalakas at pagpapatibay ng ating demokrasya dahil mahirap na pong masanay,” Aquino said.
Belmonte said extending Martial Law to 150 days may set a dangerous precedent of normalizing authoritarianism. “Paano kung gawing indefinite ang Martial Law? Paano kung may konting dahilan ay buong Pilipinas na ang ipasok sa Martial Law?” he said.
Pangilinan also expressed worry that the Martial Law extension in Mindanao may pave the way for a nationwide scope. “Will this be the basis to declare Martial Law in Luzon, in Visayas, nationwide?” asked Pangilinan.
Lagman, for his part, said there is no sufficient factual basis for any extension as there is also no adequate factual anchorage in the original declaration of Martial Law under President Duterte’s Proclamation 216.
The other lawmakers who opposed the Martial Law extension are Sen. Risa Hontiveros (Akbayan) and Representatives Gary Alejano (Magdalo), Lito Atienza (Buhay), Arlene Brosas (Gabriela), Ariel Casilao (Anakpawis), France Castro (ACT), Emmi De Jesus (Gabriela), Sarah Jane Elago (Kabataan), Antonio Tinio (ACT), Tom Villarin (Akbayan), and Carlos Zarate (Bayan Muna).