MANILA — The Congress spent approximately eight hours deliberating and voting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s request to extend the period of martial law in Mindanao.
The special joint session started at around 9:10 a.m. and ended at around 5:20 p.m.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, in an earlier report, said that lawmakers had agreed to finish the joint session at around 4:00 p.m.
Lawmakers arrived at a decision to approve the motion to extend the period of martial law at around 4:00 p.m. However, both chambers of the Congress adjourned the session at 5:20 p.m. to allow some to explain their vote.
Results of the joint voting showed that 261 lawmakers voted in the affirmative while 18 lawmakers voted in the negative.
On the part of the Senate, 16 lawmakers voted in favor of the motion, while four were against it. Meanwhile, 245 House members approved the motion, while 14 rejected it.
In the Senate, it was Senator Gringo Honasan who motioned to extend the period of martial law to five months.
The senators who voted against Honasan’s motion were Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, Senators Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Risa Hontiveros and Francis Pangilinan.
Senators Nancy Binay, Leila de Lima and Antonio Trillanes IV were absent.
In the House, it was House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas who motioned to extend the period of martial law to five months.
House members who voted against the martial law extension were Reps. Gary Alejano, Lito Atienza, Teddy Baguilat, John Christopher Belmonte, Gabriel Bordado Arlene Brosas, Ariel Casilao, France Castro, Sarah Elago, Emmi De Jesus, Edcel Lagman, Antonio Tinio, Tom Villarin, and Carlos Zarate.
During the lawmakers’ explanation of vote, some of their colleagues began leaving the plenary hall while others stayed to watch.
Under the Constitution, the Congress has the sole power to extend martial law by voting jointly.
Malacanang, for its part, welcomed the Congress decision to extend the period of martial law in Mindanao.
”We thank Congress for approving the extension of martial law until December 31, 2017,” Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a press statement.
He said that with the debates over, the government can now work on the recovery, reconstruction and rehabilitation of Marawi City.
“There is much work to be done to bring back public safety and law and order in the whole island of Mindanao,” Abella said.
The spokesperson further described martial law as “essential to the overall peace and stability.” Azer N. Parrocha and Filane M. Cervantes/PNA-northboundasia.com