By Mario Casayuran
Opposition Sen. Francis Pangilinan questioned the rationale of the Duterte administration in seeking a one-year extension of martial law in Mindanao when he said there is no longer siege by a Muslim extremist group at Marawi city.
‘’Today, there is no longer any siege. Today, no more combat operations in Marawi. Yes, there are operations elsewhere. But why are we asking for one year extension? Why not six months? Why one year? When martial law is an extraordinary measure as admitted by our resources persons,’’ Pangilinan asked during a debate on the requested one year extension of martial law at the House of Representatives in Quezon city Wednesday.
‘’It is no longer extraordinary. It has become a norm if we are to allow this one year extension,’’ he said.
Pangilinan said he agreed with the decision of the Supreme Court that upheld the first martial law declaration.
‘’We also have to take into consideration that there was an on-going siege then. That is not the case now. And therefore we have doubts as to the constitutionality of an extension of martial law for one year, given that actual rebellion as was the case perhaps six months ago, is no longer attended now,’’ he added.
Pangilinan stressed that martial law is an extreme measure and must not be exercised whimsically or arbitrarily.
He conceded that Congress provided for a six-month martial law period this year ‘’while the fighting was taking place…while the (Marawi city) siege was ongoing.’’