Below we are publishing in full the statement of Ifugao Lone District Representative Teodoro ‘Teddy’ B. Baguilat, Jr. on his No vote on the Congressional authorization to extend martial law on Mindanao from January 1, 2018 up to December 31, 2018.
I vote against the extension and expansion of Martial Law in Mindanao. The reason is simple. Because extending Martial Law makes us violators of the Constitution that we swore to uphold.
The criteria for the extension of the period of martial law are clear in the Constitution. First, that an invasion or rebellion persists. Second, that public safety requires the extension.
To say that either of these conditions exists is to say that the administration is lying to the Filipino people. It is to concede that the government is not in control, and the civilian government no longer functions effectively. These are clearly not the case.
While it may be the perception that many Mindanaoans want Martial Law to continue — a disputable presumption that has not even been empirically established – there are times when the correct choice is the unpopular or politically untenable option, simply because it is the legal thing to do and the right thing to do.
With the siege in Marawi over, and the government clearly in command, there is simply no Constitutional basis to extend Martial Law. There will always be threats to peace and order, but the Executive branch already has a wide array of deterrents short of Martial Law to foil these threats. All it takes are intelligence and compassion, attributes that, we are told, are not lacking in the administration.
The challenge now is to rebuild Marawi and restore normalcy to the lives of our fellow Filipinos there. We need to mobilize social services and civil works; we need to bring in teachers and doctors. Martial Law hardly seems the proper response.
To my colleagues in Congress, the Constitution has set specifications for the extension of Martial Law. Those specifications are absent in Mindanao. We cannot demean our offices more than we already have by inventing grounds where none exist. If we do, then we give an undeserved meaning to the term “Lower House”.