Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte submitted a report to Congress to justify the declaration of Martial Law in the Southern Philippine island of Mindanao.
Several arguments may be made for and against Martial Law. Those who are for it argue that it iwill be effective against so-called evil forces that lurk in Mindanao. Somehow, these people are comfortable with authoritarian rule. On the other side, the anti- Martial Law crowd believes there is not enough justification for it, and are afraid that the government will abuse its near unlimited powers.
Whatever side of the Martial Law debate you fall under, clearly, it must be argued. Primarily, by Congress. The debate is actually required by the Philippine Constitution (See Article VII, Section 18 of the 1987 Constitution). The Constitution requires Congress to convene in Joint Session to discuss and vote on Martial Law under the 1987 Constitution.
Here is the actual provision:
“The Congress, voting jointly, by a vote of at least a majority of all its Members in regular or special session, may revoke such proclamation or suspension, which revocation shall not be set aside by the President. Upon the initiative of the President, the Congress may, in the same manner, extend such proclamation or suspension for a period to be determined by the Congress, if the invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it.”
- Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III,
- Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto,
- Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III,
- Sonny Angara,
- Nancy Binay,
- Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito,
- Sherwin Gatchalian,
- Richard Gordon,
- Gringo Honasan,
- Panfilo Lacson,
- Loren Legarda,
- Manny Pacquiao,
- Joel Villanueva ,
- Cynthia Villar and
- Juan Miguel Zubiri.”
The following Senators voted to call for a Joint Session of Congress:
- Franklin Drilon
- Bam Aquino
- Kiko Pangilinan
- Antonio Trillanes
- Risa Hontiveros
- Ralph Recto
- Grace Poe
- Chiz Escudero
- Win Gatchalian
Columnist Boo Chanco asked Senator Angara why the Senate voted against a Joint Session with the House of Representatives:
One Thought Leader writes that for Congress, it is a matter of ‘Duty’ and ‘Review’. As columnist Manolo Quezon points out, Congress was creatively derelict in its duty:
This is Marawi vis-a-vis the whole of Mindanao:
Inconsistencies in Duterte’s Martial Law report
The timeline for the attack on Marawi doesn’t suggest the siege was premeditated. Marawi siege began as a botched military operation. The army was trying to arrest Isnilon Hapilon. Hapilon is the leader of the Maute Group. He escaped and with his escape brought armed men to the fight.
General Eduardo Año, Army Chief, who was also recently appointed as Duterte’s Interior Secretary said that Maute prior to the Marawi siege were preparing to conduct raids during Ramadan. Maute was seeking recognition as Islamic State’s regional branch. This explained why Maute was well-armed.
Journalist Janice Mateo fact checked Duterte’s Martial Law report. He doesn’t give you a conclusion for, or against Martial Law. Mr. Mateo pointed out the inconsistencies in the report submitted to Congress with information from other government agencies.
There are at least three points in Duterte’s Martial Law report that don’t conform to facts:
- Amai Pakpak Medical Center wasn’t overrun,
- Only one educational institution was confirmed to have burned down,
- No confirmed beheadings (so far).
Amai Pakpak Medical Center wasn’t overrun
The Martial Law Report says the Maute terrorist Group attacked Amai Pakpak hospital. The report adds two things. First, Maute Group held Amai Pakpak hospital employees hostage. Second, the DAESH flag flew over Amai Pakpak Medical Center.
Amer Saber, Amai Pakpak Medical Center (APMC) Chief of Hospital denied that the hospital was overrun by the Maute Group. Likewise on 29 May 2017, Paulyn Ubial, Department of Health Secretary denied that the Maute Group held the hospital staff hostage. Amai Pakpak Medical Center was fully functional according to the Secretary of Health. Likewise, Amai Pakpak Medical Center wasn’t taken over by the Maute Group, according to the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The Philippine National Police similarly reported the same.
Only one educational institution was confirmed to have burned down
According to Duterte’s Martial Law report the Maute Group burned down several educational institutions. Of those claimed, only Dansalan College Foundation was razed. The United Church of Christ in the Philippines which operates Dansalan College Foundation confirmed it..
The Martial Law report says Ninoy Aquino College Foundation burned the night of May 23, 2017. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana mentioned it in a statement.
As of this writing, Senator Ninoy Aquino College Foundation’s fate remains unknown.
Mateo reported that Marawi Central Elementary Pilot School was not burned down, as confirmed by Ms. Alonto on May 29. Department of Education Assistant Secretary Tonisito Umali subsequently provided additional confirmation.
No confirmed beheadings so far
The Martial Law Report says that about five faculty members from Dansalan College Foundation were killed by ‘lawless groups.’ Mateo says that this was reported repeatedly on social media during the height of the clashes on May 23, 2017.
No beheadings have been confirmed.
Mateo wrote that the United Church of Christ in the Philippines published a statement appealing to the public not to spread unconfirmed reports. Mateo says this was likely in reference to the reported beheadings.
The Death Toll
The Armed Forces of the Philippines reported that as of 28 May 2017, 97 people were killed in the Marawi siege. Eight more bodies of civilians were found in a ravine on the same date. The bodies of four men, three women, and a child were recovered outside Mindanao State University the day before. The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that an ambulance driver, and his companion were killed..
It is the sworn duty of Congress to convene. It is their duty to allow the assessment, and allow the public to be appraised of the facts, and the salient points. Then vote.