Duterte asks to extend martial law until end of December 2017; senators react

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte inspects the honour guard during a welcoming ceremony upon his arrival at Vnukovo International Airport in Moscow, Russia, May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

President Rodrigo Duterte requested to extend the martial law in Mindanao until December 31, 2017, garnering varied reactions from the senators.

Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella announced on July 18 that Duterte sent a letter to Congress asking a martial law extension because of the rebellion in Mindanao. His martial law proclamation will expire on July 22, 2017, as per the Constitution’s stipulated 60-day limitation since he declared martial rule on May 23, 2017.
Senate President Koko Pimentel said he is confident the Congress supermajority will approve the extension of martial law in Mindanao, but the lawmakers might debate over the length of the extension.

“Sa extension, kumpiyansa ako doon. Siguro may konting debate tayo sa period. Para klaro, ang extension will be over the same area, all over Mindanao,” Pimentel told CNN Philippines on July 18.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III gave a different time frame on July 17, before Abella’s official announcement the next day, saying that the President would ask for a 60-day extension.

Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, who dined with the President and other lawmakers on July 17, also said that Duterte would go for the 60-day extension, something that he would support.

“We agreed to extend martial law, he’ll be calling for a special session this Saturday, so we’re all going to be in the Batasan for the joint session of the Congress, and he asked for 60 more days. Sixty more days to clean up, clear up, and start the rehabilitation of Marawi. And we’re supportive. Very supportive,” Zubiri said.

In a text message to CNN Philippines, Sotto said that a 60-day extension would have higher chances of getting approved in Congress.
“The President said 60 days. Madali mag extend. Mahihirapan kami sa explanation nyan pag longer,” Sotto said.

Senator Ping Lacson weighed in on the issue, saying there was no specification on the limitation of the martial law extension in the Constitution.

“Since there is no limit specified as to the period of extension, Congress can extend the same for a period of one day “till kingdom come” or until the end of the world, or not extend at all,” Lacson said.

The 1987 Philippine Constitution said that a joint session in Congress may decide to extend or revoke martial law.

The special joint session is scheduled on July 22.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon supported the extension but only if it is not until December 31 this year. He added that he saw the need to stop the rebellion in Mindanao, but deemed Duterte’s request until the end of the year “too long.”

“Sa aking tingin ay masyadong malawak ang hanggang December 31 dahil sa mga public statement ng ating national security sector, malapit na ika nila matapos,” Drilon told radio DZMM.

He also said that martial law should only cover Marawi City.

“In so far as kung gaano kalawak, Marawi lang naman ang may rebellion at sa ating Saligang Batas, kailangan actual ang rebellion, hindi lang threat. Kaya hindi kailangan na buong Mindanao ang dapat ilagay sa ilalim ng martial law,” he added.

“Kailangan limited ang application at ang time.”

Here is Duterte’s letter to Congress on his request to extend his martial law declaration, as tweeted by Inquirer reporter DJ Yap.

Sources: ( , , )

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