MANILA—House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Wednesday backed President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao, noting that such decision has “basis” to suppress acts of terrorism and lawless violence in the region.
In an interview, Alvarez said he believes that President Duterte made the right decision and that it is within his constitutional mandate to declare martial law in cases of invasion or rebellion when the public safety requires it.
“I welcome yung talagang resolve ng ating Pangulo na gawin kung ano yung tama to address once and for all yung terrorism na lumalala hindi lang dito sa Pilipinas kundi pati na rin sa ibang bansa,” said Alvarez.
“As a Mindanaoan, yes. I fully believe na talagang may basehan yung pagdeklara ng martial law,” he added.
Alvarez, however, allayed concerns over possible abuses in the declaration of martial law, stressing that there are safeguards in the Constitution to prevent such.
“Well may mga safeguards sa ating Constitution. At in fact, pag binasa ninyo yung provision, kahit may martial law, hindi ibig sabihin na suspended yung mga korte natin. Nagpa-function pa rin yun normally,” he explained.
According to the 1987 Constitution, the President is mandated to submit a report, whether in person or in writing, to Congress within 48 hours from the proclamation of martial law.
“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,” the Constitution read.
President Duterte declared the entire Mindanao island under martial law following clashes between government troops and members of the Maute group in Marawi City.
The development also prompted Duterte to cut short his official visit to Moscow and fly back home the soonest.
The violence started Tuesday afternoon after the military conducted operations to flush out Isnilon Hapilon, a top terrorist suspect, from his hideout in Marawi City.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that two soldiers and one police officer were killed, while 12 others were wounded in the ongoing clashes.
Several facilities were also torched by the terror group including St. Mary’s Church, the city jail, the Ninoy Aquino School, and Dansalan College.