Martial law declaration in Maguindanao unnecessary, says Villar

SEN. Manny Villar today said the declaration of Martial Law in Maguindanao was unnecessary and only hints of weak leadership and the inability of government to quell lawlessness in this part of the country.

“It is unfortunate that the declaration of Martial law has been resorted to after the government appeared reluctant to go all-out against those responsible for the Maguindanao massacre. The state of emergency should have already been enough to dismantle the private armies operating in the province. We don’t even need to declare martial law in Maguindanao; we only have to enforce existing laws,” Villar said, even as he expressed confidence on the capability of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police to restore law and order in the area.

The standard-bearer of the Nacionalista Party also said the government might have overreacted when it imposed Martial Law in the province.
“We support all efforts for the swift delivery of justice for the murdered victims of Maguindanao massacre, we need a justice that is without fear and favor. Aside from bringing the perpetrators behind bars, the government must dismantle private armies with dispatch and that can be done without declaring Martial Law,” he said.

Villar, former Speaker of the House and Senate president, also called for a review of the Martial law declaration during Monday’s resumption of session to check whether or not there was constitutional basis for it.

Section 18 Article VII of the Constitution states that, “The President shall be the Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces of the Philippines and whenever it becomes necessary, he may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion. In case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it, he may, for a period not exceeding sixty days, suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or place the Philippines or any part thereof under martial law.”

The law also empowers Congress to revoke the declaration by a vote of majority of all its members.
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