MANILA-- Members of both Houses of Congress on Saturday took time to give their explanations on voting for or against President Rodrigo Duterte's request to extend the period of martial law in Mindanao until the end of the year.
Results of the joint-voting showed that 261 lawmakers voted in the affirmative while 18 lawmakers voted in the negative.
On the part of the Senate, 16 senators voted in favor of the motion, while four were against it. Meanwhile, 245 House members approved the motion, while 14 rejected it.
Quezon City Rep. Vincent Crisologo said he voted yes to prevent the foreboding spread of the ongoing rebellion in the strife-torn Marawi City to Manila.
Crisologo said it was best to defer to the wisdom of the President, who has access to all information pertaining to the situation in the south.
We're not in a position to assess the situation because we don't have the proper intelligence, Crisologo said.
Cebu City Rep. Raul del Mar saw the existence of sufficient factual basis for the extension of martial rule in Mindanao in order to quell the threats of terrorism, which is still very strong in Marawi and Lanao del Sur.
Del Mar also echoed Crisologo's fear that terrorism could have engulfed the entire Mindanao island and could have reached other island regions if martial law was not declared.
Iloilo Rep. Oscar Garin voted in favor of the martial law extension to give the government a freehand to restore order in Marawi City.
For his part, COOP NATCCO Partylist Rep. Anthony Bravo believes the extension of martial rule could facilitate government efforts toward the resolution of conflict in the southern region.
Senator Cynthia Villar voted to extend the period of martial law simply to show support to mostly young soldiers and to prevent movement of terrorist to and form Marawi City.
They can put up check points and if they recognize terrorists in the check point, they could immediately arrest them, Villar said.
She pointed out that local government units (LGUs) and the public were also most cooperative under martial law.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, who also voted for the martial law extension, said that he trusted that the reports given by the Executive Branch showed that military had not completely quelled the armed conflict in Marawi City.
He said that the reason he voted for the extension was that there were scattered armed groups not only in Marawi City but in other parts of Mindanao.
It is evident that the rehabilitation and recovery of Marawi City cannot truly begin until the rebel groups and their networks are completely destroyed, Gatchalian said.
Allowing our government to exercise these extraordinary but limited powers now is a small sacrifice compared to the dire economic and security consequences of allowing extremism to take seed and spread throughout our country, he added.
The neophyte senator said that he believed that the people of Mindanao should be protected from the rebellion through whichever means necessary.
He further said that it was important to give the President ample latitude to exercise his discretion in choosing the proper medicine to cure the cancer of terrorism.
The House members who voted against the martial law extension were Reps. Gary Alejano, Lito Atienza, Teddy Baguilat, John Christopher Belmonte, Gabriel Bordado, Arlene Brosas, Ariel Casilao, France Castro, Sarah Elago, Emmi De Jesus, Edcel Lagman, Antonio Tinio, Tom Villarin, and Carlos Zarate.
In his no-vote explanation, Atienza said it was not in the intention of the Constitution to allow a 150-day extension of martial law in Mindanao, as it only allowed a period of 60 days.
Extending it for 150 days is unthinkable if we wanted to strengthen the Constitution, Atienza said.
Belmonte warned against the dangerous precedent of normalizing authoritarianism with the extension of martial rule for 150 days.
Lagman, for his part, said there was no sufficient factual basis for any extension since there was also no adequate factual anchorage in the original declaration of martial law under Proclamation No. 216.
Lagman further said the coverage of martial law could not be extrapolated to the whole island of Mindanao where there was no actual rebellion as admitted by no less than the Martial Law Administrator and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
Brosas said the martial law declaration itself stands out as the clear and present danger to the people of Mindanao.
On the part of the Senate, Minority Leader Drilon said that he rejected the motion to extend martial law in Mindanao until yearend, stressing that there was no evidence of actual rebellion outside of Marawi City.
Drilon said that he was concerned by the possibility that martial law would be declared in the entire country under the justification of an existing rebellion in Marawi and the threat of rebellious activities spilling over other parts of the country.
The factual basis for continued martial law in Mindanao up to December 31 do not meet the requirements of the Constitution. Martial law will be declared only if actual rebellion exists and Congress may extend if that rebellion persists, Drilon said.
He stressed that there was no evidence presented to establish the necessity of placing the entire Mindanao under martial law since a security report showed that rebellion persists in only 10 out of 27 provinces in Mindanao.
Apart from Drilon, the senators who voted against the martial law declaration were senators Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Risa Hontiveros and Francis Pangilinan.
Source: Philippines News Agency