Press Release
December 5, 2009


Senators Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III and Mar Roxas today expressed alarm over President Arroyo's declaration of martial law in Maguindanao and called on members of Congress to determine if it was really needed or if just a ploy to keep the Administration's political dominance.

"The declaration of martial law does not make sense to us," Aquino said in a press conference in the Liberal Party Headquarters in Cubao, Quezon City with Roxas, LP Chairman former Senate President Franklin Drilon, Cavite Rep. and LP Secretary-General Jun Abaya, Quezon Rep. and LP spokesman Erin Tanada and other party leaders.

"Martial law can only be declared upon the existence of an actual invasion or rebellion, and when public safety requires. Such grounds do not exist to justify the proclamation of martial law in the province of Mindanao," he added.

Roxas said the LP acknowledges the uneasy peace and order situation in Maguindanao in the aftermath of the massacre of 57 innocent civilians by members and supporters of the ruling Ampatuan clan recently.

But, he stressed, the LP does not see any need for martial law to be imposed considering that the government has enough powers to enforce the warrants of arrest and order a trial of those behind the massacre.

"Gusto rin namin sa Partido Liberal na maging maayos ang sitwasyon sa Maguindanao. Pero ang pagde-deklara ng martial law ay hindi ang tamang pamamaraan para gawin ito....maaaring lalo pa ngang lumala ang sitwasyon sa Maguindanao dahil rito (The Liberal Party wants everything to go back to normal in Maguindanao. But declaring martial law is not the proper way to address fact, it could even worsen the situation in Maguindanao)," Roxas said.

Aquino said the martial law declaration comes as a surprise "considering the recent government pronouncements that everything is under control" in Maguindanao.

He noted that the AFP, through its spokesperson Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner, declared no more than four days ago that there is no need for the declaration of martial law in Maguindanao or elsewhere in the country because the AFP and PNP are on top of the situation.

Aquino also noted that acting Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales declared no more than three days ago that the government's effort to contain the tension in the province is holding ground while DILG Secretary Ronaldo Puno said as late as Friday night said that "no decision had been made" on the declaration of martial law, and suggested that queries be directed to Gonzales.

"There is no additional advantage to having a martial law regime - legally and militarily. It does not strengthen the position of government to serve justice to the victims of the massacre. The declaration of martial law can even lead to changing the character of the crimes committed in Maguindanao. The crimes allegedly committed are murder, rape, kidnapping and more. These capital crimes are non-bailable. In a state of martial law, these common crimes may be absorbed into the single crime of rebellion," he pointed out.

Drilon said the martial law declaration could be a ploy by President Arroyo to stop the Ampatuans from divulging information about the cheating in the 2004 presidential elections and the 2007 senatorial elections, especially as reports came out that the Ampatuans had warned Malacañang against being sacrificed or they will talk about the issue.

"Is it to cover up the discovery of DND/PNP arms and ammunition in the Ampatuan compound proving government support for the warlords that have delivered questionable election victories to this administration in the past? Is it to impose such overwhelming control so that there can be no leaks of information and suppress evidence of electoral fraud and other crimes? Is it meant to re-establish control of the alleged massive electoral fraud machinery in time for the 2010 elections? Is this a test case for implementing martial law rule in the entire country in order to perpetuate this administration in power indefinitely? These are only some of the questions that beg answers," Drilon said.

Aquino appealed to congressmen and senators to come together immediately and ascertain the validity of the imposition of martial law.

"Congress must not be a rubber stamp. Congress must ask the right questions, and it must act now," the LP standard bearer said.

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