SENATORS lauded the affirmation by the Supreme Court (SC) of the legality of the President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of martial law in Mindanao.
Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri welcomed the SC's martial law ruling saying the government's security forces can continue their pursuit and clearing operations against the Maute terrorists and their affiliates, without a cloud of doubt on their mandate to do so.
"The government must now focus and concentrate on getting rid of this menace in the whole of Mindanao and start the rehabilitation plan of all the affected areas so that we may achieve normalcy and ultimately economic development and inclusive growth in the region,” Zubiri said.
Zubiri lauded the SC magistrates for showing judicial probity, independence and progressive thinking in their exercise of judicial review powers.
"It is a mark of a progressive Supreme Court when they listen to the Executive's justifications of the Martial Law declaration and place the welfare of the people of Mindanao above other considerations," Zubiri said.
Voting 11-3-1 on Tuesday, July 4, the majority of the SC justices denied the petitions and upheld the constitutionality of Proclamation 216 issued by President Duterte on May 23, placing the whole of Mindanao under martial law and suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.
Three SC justices voted to partially grant the petitions filed by the House of Representatives' minority bloc, several residents of Mindanao and women of Marawi City by limiting martial law in the affected area, particularly, in Marawi City, and one voted to grant the petitions.
Senator Francis Pangilinan while disagreeing with the SC ruling, said he accepts the authority of the Supreme Court to rule on the issue.
Pangilinan also called on the country to respect the SC ruling.
Pangilinan supported the dissenting opinion of three justices calling for a narrowing of the scope of martial law to Marawi City.
"We urge Malacanang to consider the wisdom of the three SC Justices (Bejamin) Caguioa, (Chief Justice Maria Lourdes) Sereno, and (Antonio) Carpio to move to limit Martial Law to Marawi," the senator said.
"We must ensure that the human rights of everyone are protected against abuses and justice will always prevail. As soon as the fighting ends, the government must buckle down to work and start rehabilitation efforts in the area immediately," Pangilinan said.
Senator Richard Gordon said that he is not surprised with the outcome of the voting considering the extraordinary situation in Marawi City.
Gordon further said that he will not be surprised if the President will call for an extension of martial law for another 60 days.
Senator Paolo Benigno "Bam" Aquino said that he respects the decision of the Supreme Court and will continue to support the Armed Forces that is at the front lines of the battle.
"Still, we must remain vigilant and safeguard the rights of our countrymen until the firefight ends and martial law is lifted," he said.
Aquino called for giving displaced Filipino families the support they need and be ready to pour all efforts to rebuilding Marawi, reestablishing schools, and creating jobs and livelihood for the community.
Defeating the terrorists is not enough, Senator Aquino said, adding that defeating poverty is the bigger key in eradicating terrorism and insurgency in the country.
For Senator Risa Hontiveros the SC decision to affirm martial law in Mindanao was a sad day for Philippine democracy.
"It was a missed opportunity for the Supreme Court to stand up against creeping authoritarianism," she said.
Hontiveros said that martial law has become a "silver bullet" for a false peace, and she warned that the ruling might be perceived as a free pass to expand martial law to other parts of the country or take constitutional shortcuts.
"The decision sets a dangerous precedent for undemocratic governance. Lest we forget, bad precedents stem from seemingly justifiable measures. With the ruling, martial law becomes the 'default response' of the state to address all acts of violence and lawlessness," she said.
While against martial law, Hontiveros reiterated her support to Philippine troops fighting the Maute terrorists.
"With or without martial law, I am confident that they will be able to defeat the terrorist threat in Marawi," she said.
For his part, Senator JV Ejercito welcomed the SC's decision in upholding the declaration of martial law through Proclamation 216.
"Now that the two branches of government have already affirmed President Duterte's actions and that any and all question on its legality have been put to rest, it is time to show a united front against terrorism and lawless violence, and more importantly, begin the urgent work of rebuilding the communities in Marawi City," he said.
Ejercito said he supported the declaration of martial law since members of the Maute group are not ordinary criminals.
"Likewise, the intention of Martial Law declaration is very much different from what transpired before. Now, the intention is to contain the area of conflict and to put an end to the rebellion by the terrorist Maute group. No threat to basic freedom and Constitution is functioning.
The real intent is to crush terrorism and rebellion, and nothing else, "he said adding that he will support an extension if there is a need.
Vice President Maria Leonor "Leni" Robredo, for her part, said the SC decision on Proclamation 216 is an affirmation of the democratic process set in the Constitution.
"This is an important component of the mandated checks and balances to martial law. We expect that Congress will likewise fulfill its Constitutional duty to review, on behalf of the people, the declaration of martial law in Mindanao," she said. (SunStar Philippines)