By Raïssa Robles
Today, 261 Congressmen voted to extend President Rodrigo Duterte’s Martial Law in Mindanao until December.
Eighteen Congressmen were reported to have voted “NO”.
But since there are supposed to be 295 Congressmen on record (since two have died), this means that SIXTEEN CONGRESSMEN SIMPLY DID NOT SHOW UP TO CAST THEIR VOTES OR MAYBE SOME OF THEM ABSTAINED.
However, 261 YES votes is a landslide majority. Among the Congressmen who voted YES were SIX Muslim lawmakers, whose constituents are bearing the full brunt of Martial Law. The six publicly declared their full support for extending Martial Law in Mindanao for 150 days or until year end.
I wondered if these SIX Muslim lawmakers gave their support to Martial Law UNDER DURESS.
The SIX Muslim Congressmen who voted to extend Martial Law today are closely related to SIX GOVERNORS who were recently stripped of police powers by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Last month on June 8, 2017, the acting Interior and Local Government Secretary Catalino Cuy issued Resolution No. 2017-334 removing from SEVEN GOVERNORS and 123 MAYORS in Mindanao the power of control over the police in their areas.
The reason insinuated in the Resolution was that these local government executives were involved in the illegal drug trade or “said to be providing support in one way or another, to the Maute terrorist Group or other criminal elements in their jurisdiction”.
It’s quite rare for a local chief executive to be stripped of his power over the local police. A very serious reason has to be given for it. Being stripped of police powers means a local chief executive can no longer order the police around and has no say on police operations.
The DILG Resolution specifically named the following Governors below as those who have been stripped of their powers:
Governor Esmael Mangudadatu and 28 mayors in Maguindanao
Governor Mamintal Adiong Jr* and 37 mayors in Lanao del Sur
Governor Imelda Quibranza-Dimaporo and 22 mayors in Lanao del Norte
Governor Datu Pax Pakung Mangudadatu and 12 mayors in Sultan Kudarat
Governor Abdusakur Tan II and 13 mayors in Sulu
Governor Hadjiman Salliman and 10 mayors in Basilan
Governor Nurbert Sahali* and 9 mayors in Tawi-Tawi
Mayor Frances Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi of Cotabato City
However, the DILG Resolution did not say what the specific violation of each governor was.
It’s also telling that the governors were stripped of their powers using President Rodrigo Duterte’s Command-in-Chief powers, not his powers as head of the Executive branch of government.
When I was listening to the voting on the Martial Law extension today, I realized that SIX of the Muslim lawmakers backing Martial Law were close relatives of SIX OF THE SEVEN GOVERNORS who had been stripped of their police powers:
Congresswoman Shernee Tan of Kusug-Tausug Party-list Group is the youngest daughter of former Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan II. Shernee Tan favors Martial Law even while her own father was named a Maute coddler or supporter?
It was her assertion that Martial Law should be declared across the entire country that made me look more closely at this issue.
Congressman Ansaruddin Adiong, who voted YES, is the brother of Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal Adiong Jr. The latter was among those recently stripped of police powers along with 37 mayors.
Congressman Zajid Mangudadatu is the brother of Maguindanao governor Esmael Mangudadatu and nephew of Sultan Kudarat Governor Pax Mangudadatu. Both Mangudadatu governors were stripped of police powers, along with their respective mayors.
Congresswoman Ruby Sahali is the sister of Tawi-Tawi Governor Nurbert Sahali. Gov. Nurbert Sahali was among those stripped of police powers, along with nine mayors in Tawi-Tawi.
Congressman Abdullah Dimaporo is the husband of Lanao del Norte Governor Imelda Dimaporo, who was also stripped of police powers. Congressman Mohamad Khalid Dimaporo is the eldest son of Governor Imelda and Congressman Abdullah.
Can the SIX MUSLIM LAWMAKERS all be expected to FREELY CAST a vote regarding Martial Law extension when the political power of their clans is gravely under threat and their relatives have been stripped off police powers?
The next five months will reveal the answers.
I have always believed that the voice of the governed should be heard in the most important matters like the declaration or extension of Martial Law.
If the governors are all guilty of illegal drug trade or of supporting Islamic terrorists, they should all be brought before the court of law. With Martial Law, they could in fact be suspended outright.
But if no charges are filed against them before the Ombudsman within this year, then stripping them of police powers at such a crucial time is part of a bigger plot.