President Rodrigo Duterte may extend martial law in Mindanao beyond the sixty (60)-day period ends on July 22 as the clashes between government forces and Islamic militants in Marawi City continue.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Friday clarified that it is still President Duterte’s call to extend the martial law in Mindanao. Alvarez also cited Article VIII, Section 18 of the 1987 Constitution, stating that Congress may extend the proclamation or suspension of martial law for a period it will determine “[u]pon the initiative of the President.”
However, this initiative will only be taken “if the invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it.”
On the other hand, Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella assured the country that the decision of President Duterte would be for the national interest, law and order, and the safety of the entire country.
“The President has repeatedly stressed that the Philippines abides by the rule of law, and extending martial law would be based solely on the assessment and recommendation of the military and the police.” Abella said.
President Duterte stated on Friday that he would only lift martial rule if the military and police will tell him the danger posed by the Abu Sayyaf terrorists and Maute group has abated.
“Pag sinabi nila wala nang delikado (If they say it is no longer dangerous) and everything is OK, then that is the time we will lift martial law.” Duterte said.
Based on the latest information the President also received from the police and military, the situation in Marawi City remains critical.
“I consulted them and they said it was critical,” he said, emphasizing it is only the military and the police who can tell him if things have improved or not.
But according to him, the offensive against the militants is winding down in Marawi City which was attacked by hundreds of gunmen on May 23.
Lawmakers are also urging the President to inform them officially of his intention to lift or extend martial law before he delivers his first State of the Nation Address before Congress on July 24.
Moreover, members of the Senate majority bloc said that it would be easy to approve the martial law extension in Mindanao since the President requested for it.
When Tito Sotto was asked if he sees an easy approval on Martial Law extension he said “Yes, if the situation so warrants.”
Sen. JV Ejercito also agreed with Sotto adding that justifying is easier since there have been no atrocities or any human rights violations committed since the imposition of martial law.
“We want to be briefed so that we’ll have a better grasp and understanding of the situation on the ground in Marawi,” he said.
Meanwhile, according to Sen. Ping Lacson the approval will depend on how the administration will depend their reasons to extend the martial law in Mindanao.
“It will largely depend on how the security officials of the government will present their case to the Congress, notwithstanding the overwhelming number of allies the President has in both Houses,” Lacson said.
On the other hand, the Philippine National Police Chief Officer Ronald Dela Rosa, said that they made the recommendation to extend the martial law in Mindanao because some narcopoliticians believed to be supporting the Maute terrorist group remained at large.
However, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana refused to give details of their recommendation.
“Let us wait for the President’s decision. It could be the same as mine or [different]. If different, detractors will pit us against each other again. It’s better to wait.” He said.
The President declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23 after the Maute group and Abu Sayyaf terrorists laid siege to Marawi City, where more than 500 people have been killed in nearly two months of fighting.
The sixty (60)-day martial law period will expire on July 22, two days before the President’s State of the Nation Address.