After a lengthy five-hour closed-door security briefing last Wednesday, most Senators were convinced that there is a must for an extension of Martial Law in Mindanao on the Marawi siege situation, but they were also divided on its duration to be until at the end of the year as proposed by President Rodrigo Duterte.
According to Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella, the President had sent a seven-page request letter to Congress asking an extension, because by July 22, 2017 the rebellion in Mindanao still would not be quelled. The Martial Law proclamation will expire on July 22, 2017, as mandated in the Constitution of its 60 day implementing limit.
Senator Franklin Drilon told reports on Wednesday that he is not yet convinced. But as to the need for extension, he is inclined to support that. But in so far as the length and the coverage, he’ll debate on it.
As to Senator Joel Villanueva, extension of military rule in Mindanao until Dec. 31 2017 was not necessary. He too was not convinced. But for the extension, he agreed that there is really a need for it. And for him, a 20-day extension would suffice.
Senate Minority Leader Drilon noted that the senators in general were supportive of the proposed extension but he anticipated that the length and coverage would be the focus of the debate at the special joint meeting of Congress on Saturday.
Senator Tito Sotto, the Senate Majority Floor Leader, provided a different time frame on the martial law extension as based on the lawmakers’ session with the President Monday evening.
The Wednesday briefing was conducted by the Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and martial law implementor – General Eduardo Año, national security adviser – Secretary HermogenesEsperon Jr, and martial law administrator – Defense Secretary DelfinLorenzana. The briefing was held days just Congress discuss in joint session the request of President Duterte.
Senator Ejercito supports the extension but, along with the other senators, is still undecided on the five-month duration as requested. He said that a few more days like 20-30 days would be enough, having justified reasons given.
Both Drilon and Ejercito noted how the first 57 days of military ruling in Mindanao was implemented without any case of significant human rights violation in the region, and with this, the Senators commended the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Senator Grace Poe said that they requested more information to be presented by the security officials at the joint sessions so that it will be clearer to them whether there’s a need to extend until December.
Gordon supports extension but only for a maximum of 60 days.
As to Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto favoring Martial law, said it would be better to be limited on directly affected areas and with a short-span expiry date.
Senator Zubiri favors the extension as well, and he said that the additional five months is more than enough at the same time sufficient enough to be able to weed out this armed terrorizing elements.
As for Senator Richard Gordon, he would have preferred an extension of only 60 days
Meanwhile, Senator RisaHonteveros is also undecided as to support the President’s request or not.
Security Officials would still have to justify the martial extension during the joint session according to Senator Grace Poe.