PHILIPPINE Constitution Association (Philconsa) president Martin Romualdez yesterday predicted that President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte will be able to address the continued threats of terrorism in Mindanao after Congress granted his request to extend martial law until the end of 2018.
Romualdez, a former House Independent Bloc leader of the 16th Congress and a three-term Leyte congressman, expressed confidence that the “continuing threats of terrorism in Mindanao would be addressed through the firm and strong leadership of the President.”
“We should equip our government troops with the needed tools to ensure that terrorism in Mindanao will be suppressed,” said Romualdez as he asked the assurance of government troops to ensure that no rights will be violated.
President Duterte stressed in Congress that he just wanted unlimited peace in the entire country and not unlimited martial law.
Underscoring the need for President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte to finish the task, Leyte Rep. Yedda Marie Kittilstvedt-Romualdez expressed her support to the extension of Martial law and suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao until the end of next year.
“The President has been receiving files of sensitive and validated intelligence reports and we submit to his wisdom being in the best position to determine how to deal with the actual situation. President Duterte needs all the support from Congress to finish the task of bringing peace in Mindanao by extending the martial law proclamation,” Romualdez, wife of Martin Romualdez said.
But House Deputy Minority Leader and Buhay Hayaang Yumabong (Buhay) party-list Rep. Lito Atienza questioned the constitutional basis of the request of the President to extend martial law in Mindanao for one year.
“We are asking for a clarification from the Executive and the military on the provisions of the Constitution—Article VII, Section 18 clearly limits the power of the President, any President to declare Martial Law, if needed, and to suspend the writ of habeas corpus for a maximum not to exceed 60 days,” Atienza, who was the first to interpellate on the part of the House of Representatives during the special joint session of Congress.
Atienza stressed that Congress should follow and respect the limitations provided for by the Constitution.
Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, Quezon City Rep. Winston “Winnie” Castelo, and Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles said
President Duterte should be given the needed reinforcement from Congress to end the terrorism in Mindanao.
“We cannot afford another Marawi City crisis and giving the President his needed power to contain the problem is in order,” Barbers explained.
Castelo said martial law was properly implemented in Mindanao and President Duterte deserves a one-year extension.
“There was no abuse of authority from the military or any government entity in the sixty-day martial law,” said Castelo.
“The extension of martial law in Mindanao will put an end to the lingering rebellion of the Maute terror group and their allies – and we must support him to ensure public safety and the territorial integrity of the Republic,” Castelo explained.
Nograles said what Congress decided is within the Constitution and will help “self-preservation of the integrity of our nation.”
“Besides, this administration has been able to show that under this martial law no abuses were made and no rights were trampled on and this was even validated by survey results indicating that Mindanaoans are in favor of martial law considering the present circumstances,” Nograles stressed.