Philippine Congress Sees No Role in Oversight of Martial Law

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House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said there is no need for the Congress to monitor the daily happenings during the state of martial law in Mindanao. Facebook/Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez

MANILA, Philippines— For House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, there is no need for Congress to monitor daily incidents during the state of martial law in Mindanao, which has been extended to the end of 2017.

“Alam mo, hindi na kailangang i-monitor ng Kongreso yan dahil sa dami na po ng media na nandodoon, nado-document lahat from Day One,” Pantaleon said in an interview with ANC on Saturday after Congress approved the extension of martial law in Mindanao until yearend.

“Sa dami po ng mga volunteer groups na nandodoon sa area ay sa palagay ko ay sapat na yun para makita natin kung merong paglabag sa karapatang pantao doon,” the speaker, who has said he wants martial law in place for five years, added.

Alvarez’s colleagues, however, disagree, saying the martial law needs oversight to assure the public that there would be no human rights violations.’

‘There is a need for Congress oversight’

In interpellation during the joint session of Congress, both Senators Grace Poe and Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan asked the military to conduct regular monitoring for martial law human rights violations and for situationers.

Poe, who eventually voted in favor of martial law extension, suggested a congressional mechanism to check rights abuses.

“Kasi gusto naming suportahan kung ano man ang rekomendasyon ng military sapagkat kayo naman ang nandiyan on the ground, subalit, siguro, are you amenable na magkaroon ng congressional monitoring mechanism?”Poe said.

“Sapagkat kami nga dito yung nagbibigay ng patotoo para maipagpatuloy itong martial law pero siguro, well…supposedly doon sa report na walang human rights violations na officially talaga, pero nais nating mamintina ito so kung mayroong congressional oversight or mechanism na patuloy tayong magbibigay ng regular brief, assessment pagdating sa human rights, assessment pagdating sa sitwasyon ng mga evacuees,” she added.

On the other hand, Pangilinan eyed mandating the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Commission on Human Rights to coordinate with human rights organizations in Mindanao and to submit human rights reports.

“Kung ito ay naipasa, maari bang sa resolusyon na ito, kung isasama ang isang probisyon o minamandato ang Armed Forces of the Philippines, ang Commission of Human Rights, in coordination with human rights organizations sa Mindanao ay weekly magsa-submit ng human rights situationer para po mababantayan po natin na hindi po aabusuhin ang kapangyarihan ng martial law dito po sa nasasakupang lugar,” Pangilinan said.

Pangilinan voted against the proposal to extend martial law in Mindanao.

Some lawmakers and senators have expressed fear that the extension of martial law in Mindanao would pave way for human rights abuses just like in the 1972 martial law rule of late president Ferdinand Marcos. Although loyalists deny that there were abuses, a government board has already started paying out reparations to rights abuse victims during the Marcos years.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, both retired military generals, agreed with the suggestions of the senators.

“Tanggap po namin ‘yan. We welcome the participation of the human rights commission. We also like that so that when the human rights is always there then our people will be more encouraged to behave properly,” Lorenzana said during the interpellation.

‘Alleged human rights violations still under probe’

Last month, Gabriela Women’s Party filed House Resolution 1085 seeking an inquiry into the Marawi crisis, which included accounts of women who received rape threats from soldiers.

The Commission on Human Rights told Congress on Saturday that it is still in the middle of receiving reports and conducting its own investigations into the alleged human rights violation in Marawi City.

“We do not have a categorical statement to say that there are no human rights violations,” CHR chair Chito Gascon said.

READ: ‘Please ask what we feel’: Maranao leader speaks up on martial law abuses


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One Response to “Philippine Congress Sees No Role in Oversight of Martial Law”

  1. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World Peace Forum.

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