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Escudero fears Panelo’s ‘trailblazing legal theories’ on martial law could lead Duterte to wrong path

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Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero on Wednesday rejected Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo’s proposal for the possible “re-declaration” by President Duterte of his martial law proclamation after the 60-day period expires later this month.

“If it’s for the same area and to address the same threat, it is, for all intents and purposes, an extension and not a ‘re-declaration.’ I hope the legal advisers of the President will exercise more prudence instead of advising him ‘trailblazing legal theories’ that may raise more constitutional issues than settling them,” Escudero said.

Panelo, in a television interview, said that “if Congress does not extend on the 60th day upon the initiative of the President, there can be no extension (but) another proclamation is necessary.”

But Escudero said nothing would be lost if the President will seek an extension of the existing martial law in Mindanao as the troops and the military offensive operations against the Maute group will continue even during the “gap.”

Escudero was referring to the period in which the President would seeking an extension from Congress of martial law after the 60-day period of implementation had lapsed.

Under the 1987 Constitution, Congress may extend the imposition of martial law for a period to be determined by them, if the invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it.

Congress, Escudero said, will now be given the chance to support Duterte’s fight against terrorism, making it now an effort by all three branches, with the Supreme Court included and effectively “democratize” his policies and decisions in Mindanao.