Martial law extension up to Congress, says Drilon

Only Congress has the power to extend martial law, according to Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon, a former justice secretary.

Drilon issued the statement as he disproved claims that the President could just issue a new martial law proclamation if Congress does not extend Proclamation 216 placing Mindanao under martial law.

"The Constitution is clear that it is Congress that has the power to extend martial law and the President may only recommend," Drilon said.

He cited Section 18, Article VII of the Constitution, which provides that "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."

That provision, according to Drilon, is one of the measures introduced in the Constitution "to provide a safeguard in the president's exercise of its martial law powers," to prevent abuses that happened when martial law was declared during the Marcos regime.

He further explained that the same provision vested Congress the power to determine the period of extension of the martial law.

Drilon said that to advise the President to just issue a new proclamation if and when Congress does not approve of an extension is "an affront to the Constitution."

"Such action will be a circumvention of the Constitution because for all intents and purposes, it is nothing more but an extension of the existing proclamation," he stressed.

"You cannot circumvent the Constitution. Huwag naman sana nating lokohin ang taumbayan. Let us not try to go around with the Constitutional requirements. Let us respect the process," Drilon said.

"What cannot be done directly cannot be done indirectly," said Drilon, adding that doing so "would violate the principle of check and balance between the executive and Congress."

Drilon said he hopes that the executive will respect the Constitutional duty of Congress to review and approve or disapprove any extension of the martial law.

Source: Senate of the Philippines

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