THE VOTE: Martial Law corrupts our Constitution and its Administrators

(Explanation of Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin’s vote against the third extension of martial law in Mindanao and suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus until 31 December 2019.  Delivered at the Joint Session of Congress on 12 December 2018. Villarin also voted NO to the first and second extension).

The greatest threat in Mindanao is not from terrorist groups but the thinking that only martial law can solve its problems that are deeply rooted in conflict and poverty.

Martial law corrupts our Constitution and its administrators. When we let ML be again extended without any constitutional and factual basis, then we corrupt our very own basic upon basic law and throw out the window all rights and freedoms we have. This paves the way for totalitarian rule abetted by our total disregard of civilian rule over the military.

Martial law is our most formidable and omniscient emergency power. It cannot and should not be just bandied about because it’s popular and seemingly harmless. It is devoid of transparency and accountability.

What actual powers does ML grant? If these rebels/terrorists are scattered and hiding in the marshes and mountains of Mindanao, what specific powers would the AFP want to neutralize them?

How has martial law been used since its imposition in May 23, 2017? Would the purported victories of the military as claimed by the AFP under martial law could have not been achieved even without martial law? If the answer is in the negative then we have a problem.

It begs the question what truly would be the role of the AFP — becoming our national police to quell lawlessness or would it be our first line of defense against external aggression and occupation of our territory especially now happening in the West Philippine Sea. It cannot play both roles.

What military plans in Mindanao in 2019 cannot be pursued without martial law? Is securing the Bangsamoro plebiscite and May 2019 national elections a requisite for martial law? If indeed they are, then by logic, the whole country should likewise be under martial law.

Who gains from ML? It is the military with their TapHang and forced surrenderees that are given at least P650-M in cash assistance, a P180-M land acquisition deal, and P3.2-B rehab funds that are not being accounted. We don’t even know how much have we spent on bombs, ordnance, and armaments. You have corruption in OPAPP with the PAMANA infra funds.

Is the public aware that there are now 25 private ports operating in Davao? With no oversight over this development, smuggling has prospered and remain unreported. Vested interest groups operate unhampered and unnoticed.

I vote no Madam Speaker.