Press Release
December 13, 2017

Explanation of Vote
Martial Law - Second Extension

I vote NO to another extension of Martial Law in the entire Mindanao for one year. The Constitution is clear that martial law may be declared only in cases of actual rebellion when public safety requires it. The elements of rebellion are well-settled. Rebellion is committed by rising publicly and taking arms against the government for the purpose of removing from its allegiance the Philippines or any part thereof. To give full and unqualified assent to another martial law extension when an actual rebellion no longer persists is unconstitutional.

Mr. President, last October 23, the government through Secretary Lorenzana declared Marawi City as liberated from terrorist influence. Secretary Lorenzana on the same day announced the termination of combat operations in the City.

Today, there is no actual rebellion. Rebellion no longer persists in Mindanao. Despite this, a request for a one-year extension was made. Our resource person enumerated acts, which are similar to the grounds given by the President in the request for extension. These acts do not constitute rebellion. "Recruitment and training of new members", "radicalization/recruitment", "planning", "continuing defiance", and "taking advantage of the situation" do not constitute actual rebellion. At best, these are criminal acts punishable under Art. 138 of the Revised Penal Code or "inciting a rebellion or insurrection." This is not contemplated by the Constitution as a ground for declaring Martial Law.

We noticed that the 5th ground stated in the letter pertains to the "intensified rebellion" of the CPP-NPA. When Martial Law was imposed last May 23 and extended last July 22, the NPA was never mentioned. Now, their activities are cited to justify the one-year extension. We know that the NPA operates nationwide and the problem of insurgency has persisted over the last 40 years. Is this now a prelude to declaring Martial Law nationwide?

"Guerilla warfare", "acts of terrorism", and "perpetration of violent incidents" while deplorable, are not grounds for the imposition of Martial Law. To end these atrocities, the AFP and the PNP can exercise their powers under the law without placing Mindanao under martial law for one whole year. Failing that, the President may even use his power to call out the Armed Forces prevent and suppress lawless violence.

Mr. President, let me be clear that I salute and commend the military's victory over terrorist groups and support all efforts to rebuild Marawi City. We however cannot turn a blind eye on this unconstitutional stretch of prerogative. We cannot allow temporary measures reserved for extraordinary perils and extreme exigencies to become permanent. Ang unli-Martial Law ay labag sa ating Saligang Batas.

To constantly rely on martial law is an affront to our military's capabilities. Naniniwala po ako na kahit walang Martial Law, ang ating Hukbong Sandatahan ay may sapat na kakayahang matalo ang mga rebelde at terorista.

If we continue to go down this track, there might come a time that truly calls for the declaration of martial law. By then, however, we will no longer have a trump card up our sleeve. Martial law would merely be a once-sharp blade that we had dulled through needless and constant use.

May panahon sa paggamit ng batas militar. Hindi po ito ngayon. Huwag nating paniwalain ang ating mga kababayan sa Mindanao na ito ang kasagutan para maibalik ang kanilang kaligtasan at normal na pamumuhay.

Let us not normalize martial rule and the abandonment of the balance of powers. Doing this will only show the terrorists that they have won because we are ruled by terror and fear. Let us restore normalcy in the lives of our fellowmen in Mindanao, stop displacement, and show the terrorists that our values of freedom, democracy, peace, and human rights are superior to their acts of hate and violence. Maraming salamat po.

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