THE possibility of extending the 60-day martial law in Mindanao due to continued fighting has gained ground House of Representatives leaders.
Leyte Rep. Yedda Marie Kittilstvedt-Romualdez, Deputy Speaker and Batangas Rep. Raneo Abu, Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, Isabela Rep. Rodolfo “Rodito” Albano III, Parañaque City Rep. Gus Tambunting, and House Deputy Minority Leader and Kabayan party-list Rep. Harry Roque said Congress will always be supportive of efforts to finally end the almost month-long armed conflict in Marawi City.
“Congress will always be reasonable to support the President’s determination to address the Marawi crisis. If we find that there is basis for the extension of martial law after our careful assessment of the situation, of course we will grant the request of the President,” said Romualdez, a vice chairperson of the House committee on government enterprises and privatization.
Abu agreed with Romualdez, saying “we will work on extending martial law in Mindanao should the situation call for it.”
“President Duterte deserves the support of Congress to finally end the Marawi crisis. We believe in the Chief Executive’s determination to end the conflict and he has no tendency of abusing his authority,” Abu stressed.
Barbers, who chairs the House committee on dangerous drugs, said he
cannot blame Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez for being open to extending the 60-day martial law in Mindanao to eliminate terrorism because the fighting continues.
“I will support any extension as long as there is still imminent threat of terrorism, rebellion and invasion perpetrated by ISIS, Maute group and Abu Sayyaf Group,” said Barbers.
Evardone, chairman of the House committee on banks and financial intermediaries, said there is no problem for martial law extension “if the situation warrants it” while Albano, a member of the powerful Commission on Appointments (CA), said “who are we to refuse if the conditions warrant the prolonging of martial law to save lives.” Tambunting, who chairs the House committee on games and amusement, said “I will not object to an extension if it remains necessary and the situation is still not under control.”
“That’s for the President to declare. If he does, Congress will support him,” said Roque.
But House senior Deputy Minority Leader and Buhay Hayaang Yumabong (Buhay) party-list Rep. Lito Atienza urged his colleagues to just wait for the expiration of martial law as he underscored the need to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the situation.
“We will assess first the situation, it is still a month away,” said Atienza.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has yet to gain full control of the situation in Marawi City, prompting its leadership not to impose any deadline on ending the problem.
The 60-day martial law declared by President Duterte on May 23 will lapse on July 22.
The group of Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, a member of the Magnificent 7 or the so-called Genuine Opposition, questioned before the Supreme Court President Duterte’s martial law declaration and the House leadership’s refusal to convene into a joint session with senators since these are constitutional questions.
The House in plenary session had adopted a formal resolution that was reported by the committee of the whole sustaining President Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao under Proclamation No. 216.
In adopting House Resolution (HR) No. 1050, the House leadership said there is no compelling reason to revoke martial law.