CONGRESS in a joint session, with a vote of 240 affirmative and only 27 negative, approved the request of President Rodrigo Duterte to extend for another year martial law in Mindanao.
On the part of the Senate, the vote was 14-4 while in the House of Representatives it was 226-23.
Two days ago, President Duterte sent a letter to Senate President Koko Pimentel and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez requesting further extension of the proclamation of martial law and suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao.
With Congress’ approval of Duterte’s request, Mindanao will be under martial law until December 31, 2018.
Last July 22, the joint session of Senate and House granted the extension of martial law until December 31 of this year.
Unlike the first martial law, the one-year military rule will also target rebellion and insurgency launched by the New People’s Army (NPA).
Last May, President Duterte proclaimed martial law in Mindanao following the Marawi City siege by the Maute Group.
Prior to the voting yesterday, martial law administrator Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, Armed Forced of the Philippines (AFP) chief Rey Guerrero, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra, as well as other Cabinet officials, briefed members of Congress on the Mindanao situation.
According to Lorenzana, the one-year extension is needed because rebellion has not yet been completely quelled in Mindanao.
Members of the Liberal Party (LP), House Minority Magnificent 7, Makabayan bloc and other opposition solons opposed martial law.
Dinagat Island Rep. Kaka Bag-ao said the war against terror is a complex problem that needs a comprehensive response and not martial law.
“Hastily re-imposing martial law is far from being the comprehensive response that we need from this government. We do not need Martial Law in Mindanao. We need better military intelligence. We need quicker military response. We need active citizenship in our communities. We need to institute structural reforms. We need a strategic response, and not just be comfortable with the shortcuts offered by martial law and the shrinking of democratic and political rights of citizens—of Filipinos—in Mindanao,” Bag-ao said.
For his part Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said the extension is a clear violation of the safeguards which the 1987 Constitution imposes such as the limited grounds for martial law and its extension.
“Where is the actual invasion or actual rebellion in Mindanao? The Constitution provides that martial law can only be declared and its extension authorized in case of invasion or rebellion when public safety requires it,” Lagman asked.
Nationwide martial law
A party-list lawmaker yesterday reiterated her call to Congress to extend martial law in Mindanao to Luzon and the Visayas.
During the joint Congress, KUSUG-TAUSUG party-list Rep. Shernee Abubakar Tan noted that one of the grounds that President Duterte cited in requesting further extension of martial law in Mindanao is the existence of the NPA.
Tan stressed that there are also members of the NPA roaming Luzon and the Visayas.
“Therefore, if martial law is good for Mindanao, is martial law also good for Luzon and Visayas?” Tan said.
Citing public safety, Malacañang yesterday hailed Congress’ approval of President Rodrigo Duterte’s request to extend martial law in Mindanao until the end of 2018.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque also asked the public to support the government’s efforts to stop rebellion in Mindanao.
“We welcome the approval of both houses of Congress to extend the proclamation of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in the whole of Mindanao beginning January 1, 2018 until December 31, 2018,” Roque said in a statement yesterday.
“Public safety is our primordial concern; thus, we ask the public to stand behind the administration and rally behind our defenders to quell the continuing rebellion in Mindanao; eradicate the DAESH-inspired Da’awatul Islamiyah Waliyatul Masriq (DIWM) and other like-minded local/ foreign terrorist groups and armed lawless groups, and the communist terrorists and their coddlers, supporters and financiers; and ensure the unhampered rehabilitation of war-torn Marawi and the lives of its residents,” he added.
“This is everyone’s shared responsibility. Together, we will prevail,” Roque continued.
“Wait for action that you really want,” President Rodrigo Duterte told media, adding that he will not force the imposition of martial law for another year in Mindanao as he warned anew of a looming threat in Central Mindanao and asking the media to wait for action.
The President bared that military and security officials said that some of the threat groups were being monitored regrouping in Maguindanao and North Cotabato.
“Marawi is just a signal, one flashpoint… Cotabato, Maguindanao, you watch out for it in the coming days. But it could be good reporting for you,” he said in a speech during the Christmas party Tuesday night with the reporters, cameramen, and photographers assigned to Malacañang .