Press Release
December 13, 2017

Drilon warns of nationwide martial law

Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon on Wednesday said that citing the National People's Army (NPA) as among the reasons for extending martial law in Mindanao is "alarming and a cause of concern".

Drilon said this as he maintained that extending martial law in Mindanao is unconstitutional because actual rebellion does not persist in the region.

"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," Drilon said.

"The NPA conflict has been there for the last four decades nationwide but suddenly in the extension, the NPA is cited," he pointed out during the joint session of Congress on the President's request for extension of martial law in Mindanao.

"Is this now a prelude to declaring martial law nationwide?" Drilon asked.

The inclusion of the NPA as a reason for extending martial law was extensively justified in the request letter, he noted.

Unlike the Maute group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, the Abu Sayyaf Groups, whose presence is limited to Mindanao, the NPA has presence natiowide.

"If we were to believe that the government is intent on ending the war against the NPA, which operates not only in Mindanao but all over the country, then it is entirely possible that their operations would have to be extended beyond Mindanao to meet that objective," Drilon said.

"Is it just matter of time before we convene again in ths plenary to discuss the expansion of martial law beyond Mindanao?" Drilon asked.

During the joint session, the minority leader questioned the executive's basis for extending martial law, saying that "he justiications do not meet the basic requirements of the Constitution."

"The Constitution is clear that Congress can extend the proclamation of martial law only in cases of actual public uprising and taking arms against the government,"

Drilon, a former justice secretary and four-time senate president, explained that 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."

"There is no more state of rebellion as admitted by our resource persons. There are only threats at this point. The actual armed uprising is the basic foundation for the continued proclamation of martial law," he emphasized.

He explained that the grounds cited - "recruitment and training of new members", "radicalization/recruitment", "planning", "continuing defiance", and "taking advantage of the situation" - do not constitute actual rebellion.

"It is on this basis that continued imposition and the extension of martial law up to December 31, 2018 does not find basis under the constitution. It is in fact unconstitutional if this congress would grant that extension," Drilon stressed.

Drilon also warned against allowing temporary measures reserved for "extraordinary perils and extreme exigencies" to be normalized.

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