I vote against any extension of the martial law imposition under Proclamation No. 216 dated 23 May 2017 for three overriding reasons:
First, there is no sufficient factual basis for any extension in the same manner that there was no adequate factual anchorage for the original declaration of martial law under Proclamation No. 216.
What is happening in Marawi City is lawless violence amounting to terrorism, but not actual rebellion. The President and his subalterns failed to sufficiently show the element of culpable political purpose of the terrorist groups.
The following “justifications” to show culpable intent are mere propaganda schemes of the terrorists which the military purveys as truth:
The display by the terrorists of the DAESH or ISIS flag;
Reported allegiance of the terrorist groups to ISIS;
The purported objectives of the terrorist groups to establish a wilayah in Marawi City or Mindanao;
The alleged appointment of Hapilon as emir for all the terrorist forces in Mindanao; and
The discovery of a video footage allegedly showing Hapilon and the Maute brothers planning the Marawi siege.
The foregoing do not evince the culpable political purpose of a rebellion in view of the following reasons:
The raising of the DAESH or ISIS flag is cheap propaganda of the terrorist groups to attract ISIS support. This is nothing new because the terrorists have used this stunt in other violent or lawless incidents in the past. Moreover, the so-called ISIS flag is a generic emblem being used by other international terrorist fronts.
The reported allegiance of the terrorist groups to ISIS is another publicity stunt. Justice Bienvenido Reyes in his separate concurring opinion in Lagman vs. Medialdea said that “Further, based on the ISIS’ propaganda material Dabiq … the Maute group, the ASG, the Ansarul Khilafah Philippines, and the Bangasmoro Islamic Federation Fighters, have already pledged their allegiance to the ISIS caliphate” In other words, this is admittedly sheer propaganda.
The purported objective of establishing a wilayah or ISIS caliphate province in Mindanao has not been credibly established by the government. It is another propaganda stunt to attract ISIS support and as a recruitment strategy.
The alleged appointment of Hapilon as emir is also malevolent propaganda bereft of credible anchorage which was purportedly announced in the ISIS weekly online newsletter Al Naba. There is no independent validation from the Philippine military establishment of this propaganda account.
Moreover, the video footage of the alleged meeting among the terrorist leaders to lay siege on Marawi was taken by the terrorists themselves, which should have been made completely secret. This is a patent propaganda material to impress ISIS and again, to intensify recruitment efforts and funding support. It is unfortunate that the military considered what appeared in the video as gospel truth.
The current escalating number of deaths of both combatants and civilians, massive destruction of public and private properties, and the widespread displacement of residents which approximates a humanitarian crisis, are all the aftermath of the declaration of martial law which will further be aggravated by an extension of martial law.
Second, the coverage of martial law cannot be extrapolated to the whole of Mindanao where there is no actual rebellion as admitted by no less than the Martial Law Administrator Defense Secretary Lorenzana.
The alleged threat or danger of the supposed “rebellion” in Marawi to spill over to other parts of Mindanao is akin to “imminent danger” of rebellion which has been abandoned in the 1987 Constitution as ground for declaration of martial law.
The guiding safeguard prescribed by the constitution is the limited territory to be covered by a martial law imposition or extension where actual rebellion exists.
Third, the safeguard of the Constitution on the duration of martial law is to impose a limited period. Consequently, the original imposition of martial law should not be beyond 60 days. It stands to reason that any extension should not be more than 60 days.