CHR continues to reject proposed extension of Mindanao martial law

Published December 4, 2018, 3:08 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Charissa Luci-Atienza

There is no need to extend anew the martial law in Mindanao, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said Tuesday.

Chito Gascon (Jansen Romero / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)
Chito Gascon

CHR Chairperson Chito Gascon said they are not convinced that the martial law should be extended in the South for third time as recommended by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

“Tumutol ang CHR sa unang pagpataw ng martial law, tumutol sa extension, at patuloy kaming tututol dito dahil sa aming pananaw, hindi po kailangan ng martial law powers sa Mindanao o sa anumang bahagi ng Pilipinas dahil kaya at sapat na ang kapangyarihan ng President as the commander-in-chief,” he said in an interview after the House committee on human rights hearing on the proposed Human Rights Defenders Protection Act of 2018.

The CHR official said the military should justify its proposal and prove that there is indeed “lurking” threat of terrorism in Mindanao.

“Maganda na ipaliwanang nila ang threats na yan…Malinaw sinabi ng Saligang Batas that martial law can be imposed in situations of actual invasion and rebellion, hindi po kasama ang imminent threat thereof,” Gascon said.

Armed Forces chief Gen. Carlito Galvez earlier said “there is really a clamor for extension considering that terrorism is still lurking in the area.”

Lawmakers asked government’s security officials to apprise the Congress on the Mindanao situation as Galvez asked to extend the martial law and suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in the region until December 31, 2019.

Anak Mindanao (AMIN) party-list Rep. Makmod Mending Jr. said the government should justify its request.

“My decision to support or not will depend on the threat assessment of DND/AFP (Department of National Defense-Armed Forces of the Philippines), maybe it’s time to call for a security briefing from them as well as an update on the implementation of the martial law,” he said.

For his part, Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte, vice chairman of the House committee on national defense and security, said, “We should give more weight to the inputs of the people living in Mindanao in considering a request for the extension of martial law on the island.”

“Mindanaoans are the ones experiencing what it’s like to live under martial law for a year-and-a-half now, so they would have a better grasp of what is an acceptable option for them for continued peace and security,” he said.

Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, chairman of the House committee on dangerous drugs, said he will support the extension “if only to maintain peace in the island.”

ACT Teachers party-list Reps. Antonio Tiñio and France Castro and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman rejected the proposed extension, saying that it would result in more human rights violations.