Press Release
July 23, 2017

De Lima on the suggestion for nationwide Martial Law: It's disturbing

Prisoner of Conscience and Senator Leila M. de Lima has expressed dismay over a partylist lawmaker's proposal to place the entire country under martial law, calling it a "sick joke" to play with people's lives.

De Lima, a known human rights defender, said KUSUG-TAUSUG Partylist Rep. Shernee Abubakar Tan should understand that martial law is an extreme measure that is and should not to be taken lightly.

"I find very disturbing, to say the least, the suggestion during yesterday's joint session from a lady partylist member that martial law be declared nationwide," she said in her Dispatch from Crame No. 120 released last July 23.

"Was it meant to be a joke? Meant to earn cheap laughter from those inclined to laugh at the situation? If so, what an offensively bad and sick joke it was. Was it meant to be an insult to the gravity and outcome of yesterday's exercise?," she added.

The neophyte senator's remark came after Tan, who voted for the 150-day extension of martial law in Mindanao during the joint special session of Congress over the weekend, proposed that martial law should be imposed throughout the entire country.

It may be recalled that the Upper and Lower Chambers of Congress approved in a joint special session President Rodrigo Duterte's request to extend martial law in Mindanao until Dec. 31 this year.

The former justice secretary, who has been very vocal against the declaration of martial law in Mindanao, and much less, for the entire country, questioned Tan's remark as her way to "earn brownie points from Malacañang."

"If so, what a deplorably blatant and shameless way to feather one's own interest," said the Senator, who is currently detained on trumped-up drug charges fabricated by the Duterte administration.

De Lima, who once chaired the Commission on Human Rights, reminded Tan about the horrors of Marcos martial era when thousands of people suffered during the dark years of then dictator President Ferdinand Marcos Sr.

"It (martial law) is not meant to be taken as a first resort, or as shortcut to pave the way for federalism or any other endgames politicos and vested interests may have, besides bringing order back to areas directly affected by crisis," she said.

"Real people's lives and well-being are on the balance. Don't play games with people's lives. Don't play with the power of declaring and extending Martial Law. It is a fire that will burn us all if recklessly handled by those supposedly elected to protect us from abuse," she added.

President Duterte placed the entire region of Mindanao under martial law on May 23 due to the ongoing clashes between government troops and ISIS-inspired Maute group terrorists in Marawi City.

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