Liberal Party to oppose if Duterte declares 'baseless' nationwide martial law

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 25) — The Liberal Party is ready to challenge the declaration of a nationwide martial law if there is no widespread rebellion in the country.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said instead of implementing a Mindanao-wide martial law, he is open to declaring it in more parts of the country depending on the situation.

"I might also decide to suspend the writ of habeas corpus in the Visayas," Duterte said, pointing out that because of the many islands in the south that were "just walking distance" from each other, lawless elements could always escape to any of them.

He added, "If I think that the ISIS has already taken foothold also in Luzon and terrorism is really not far behind, I might declare martial law throughout the country to protect the people."

READ: Duterte: Possible nationwide martial law; could last longer

The Liberal Party, in a statement issued on Thursday, said they are against baseless blanket martial law declarations, and they will oppose if President Duterte declared a Visayas-wide or nationwide military rule.

"Lubos kaming tumututol sa blanket martial law na walang basehan, lalo pa sa mga panukalang palawakin ang bisa ng martial law sa iba pang parte ng Pilipinas. Kung walang Visayas-wide o nationwide rebellion o invasion, labag sa saligang batas ang pag deklara ng martial law at tututulan namin ito," it said.

(Translation: We are vehemently against blanket martial law without basis, especially the plans to declare it in other parts of the country. If there is no Visayas-wide or nationwide rebellion or invasions, it is against the Constitution to declare martial law, and we will oppose it.)

The 1987 Constitution gives the President the power to call on the armed forces to suppress lawless violence, invasion, or rebellion.

Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23 due to rebellion following the crisis in Marawi City,  as well as conflicts in Zamboanga, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, and Central Mindanao. Over 50 members of local terror group Maute entered Marawi and engaged in gunbattles with government troops.

The President may declare martial law in any part of the country for up to 60 days. But President Duterte earlier said he is unsure how long the martial law in Mindanao will last, and added it could last for a year.

Under the Constitution, in cases of invasion of rebellion and when public safety requires it, the President must submit a report to Congress within 48 hours of declaring it, which will then vote whether or not to revoke it.

The Liberal Party cited that when former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo declared martial law in 2009, she followed the 48-hour deadline to submit a report on her declaration. It added that it hopes Duterte will submit his report to the Congress on or before 10 p.m. Thursday - the 48-hour mark since he declared martial law in Mindanao on Tuesday night.

The political party expressed their concern to the declaration of martial law, saying it is not the problem of the country.

"Tulad ng naging karanasan natin sa ilalim ng malagim na diktadurang Marcos, hindi kamay na bakal ang solusyon sa problema ng kahirapan, mataas na presyo ng bilihin, at kawalan ng hanapbuhay na siyang pangunahing suliranin ng karaniwang mamamayan," it said in a statement.

(Translation: Like what we've experienced under the dictatorship of Marcos, an iron fist is not the solution to poverty, high prices of basic goods, lack of jobs, which is the common problem of a typical Filipino.)

In separate statements on Wednesday, human rights groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said the martial rule might just increase human rights abuses under the Duterte administration.

The Liberal Party has also expressed their support to the government forces who are battling on the ground to win against armed members of the Maute group in Marawi City.