By Francis Wakefield
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana Tuesday said the declaration of martial law is an extraordinary power of the President as commander-in-chief of the country that must be resorted to only when warranted by our national security circumstances.
Lorenzana made the remark after House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez. proposed to extend martial law in Mindanao for another five years.
“While we respect the position of our lawmakers and laud their support to the military, we believe that the declaration of martial law is an extraordinary power of the President as commander-in-chief that must be resorted to only when warranted by our national security circumstances,” Lorenzana said in a statement.
Lorenzana said the Constitution has prescribed limitations precisely to prevent its being abused as it has implications to the country’s peace and order, economy, trade, tourism, and our people’s way of life.
“As the administrator of martial law in Mindanao, we will follow whatever path will be laid out by the national government,” Lorenzana said.
“The Filipino people can rest assured, however, that if martial law is extended, they can continue to trust their defense and security establishments since every decision we make and operation we undertake is anchored on the rule of law and respect for human rights.”
“They can trust their Armed Forces to protect them and advance the people’s best interest,” he added.
Armed Forces spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr. earlier said he does not know the basis of Alvarez for his proposal but believes such timeframe might be “too long.”
“Actually, five years may be too long for the moment,” Padilla said during the “Mindanao Hour” briefing in Malacañang.
Padilla said the military has started to conduct an assessment of the security situation and would submit its recommendation on whether or not to extend martial law to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana “in a few days.” The assessment includes whether the troops have accomplished the mission given when martial law was declared by the President.
Lorenzana, the administrator of martial law in the troubled region, would then submit such report to the President for his decision.
President Duterte earlier said he would depend on the military assessment on whether martial law will be lifted or extended. He said martial law would remain in effect if the security officials rule that the country is not yet safe from terror threats.
Tags: declaration, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Lorenzana: If martial law is extended people can trust the Armed Forces to protect them, Manila Bulletin, Martial Law, Martial law in Mindanao, terror threat