Lawmakers have mixed reactions to SC decision on martial law

MANILA-- Some lawmakers at the House of Representatives have weighed in on the Supreme Court (SC) decision affirming the constitutionality of President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of martial law in Mindanao.

On Tuesday, the SC, through an 11-3-1 ruling, validated President Duterte's May 23 declaration placing the entire Mindanao under martial law following clashes between state security forces and Islamic State-inspired terrorists from the Maute and Abu Sayyaf group.

House appropriations committee chair and Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles said the SC ruling puts to rest the qualms and questions regarding the validity of the martial law declaration, noting that President Duterte was correctly justified in his exercise of extraordinary powers.

"This leaves no doubt that the decision of the President was correct and he should be commended for his swift and decisive action," Nograles said.

"I would also like to thank the Supreme Court for finally coming out with a ruling that clarifies the legal parameters of the President's martial law powers and, more importantly, strengthens the country's institutions. This is democracy at work," he added.

Nograles also noted that all three branches of government took a common stand on the martial law proclamation in Mindanao.

Nograles, however, cited the need to shift the focus on the urgent task of putting an end to the Marawi crisis. "The long task of rebuilding the lives of our poor countrymen affected by the crisis should now proceed without delay."

Deputy Minority Leader and Kabayan Partylist Rep. Harry Roque said the high court made the right choice to defer to the judgment of the President. He further said the SC has exercised "judicial restraint" in validating Proclamation No. 216.

"I am happy that the Court respected and acknowledged the information that is readily available to the executive, which the High Tribunal does not have access to," Roque said.

"And in the absence of its ability to discern for itself the factual basis for martial law, it should accord the executive the presumption of regularity of function, which in this case it did," he added.

ACTS OFW Partylist Rep. Ancieto Bertiz III said SC's affirmation of martial law came as no surprise since the declaration is within the bounds of the Constitution.

Bertiz said the declaration of martial law showed the "wisdom and determination" of President Duterte to curb extremism and lawlessness in the southern region.

"Had it not been for the early intervention of the President and his administration it would be more difficult to put a stop to these lawless elements," Bertiz said.

"We should extend our full support to the President so he can perform well in his mandate of securing order while the whole island of Mindanao is under martial law," Bertiz added.

Meanwhile, Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano said that while he respects the high court's ruling, he maintained that there is no need for the President to declare martial law.

Alejano questioned the move to place the entire Mindanao under martial rule when the crisis is taking place only in the province of Lanao del Sur.

For his part, Akbayan Partylist Rep. Tom Villarin warned against an "authoritarian rule in the guise of public safety and security".

"Now that he is cloaked with such authority, President Duterte might push it to the limit and declare a drug-induced nationwide rebellion by terror groups," Villarin said.

Lastly, Bayan Muna Partylist Rep. Carlos Zarate said this development could be "ominous" as it might embolden the military and police to commit human rights violations.

Source: Philippines News Agency