Duterte asks Congress to extend martial law in Mindanao

MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte has asked Congress to extend martial law in Mindanao for another year upon the recommendation of the military, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea confirmed on Friday.

In a text message, Medialdea said Senate President Vicente Sotto III and House of Representatives Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo would call for a joint session “probably on the President’s request for the extension of martial law.”

Congress is set to take a Christmas break beginning Dec. 12 but Sotto reportedly said the Senate is open to holding a joint session from Thursday up to Friday night next week.

Medialdea clarified that the proposed martial law extension will only cover Mindanao and will end in December next year.

“One year and Mindanao,” Medialdea replied to media’s query.

Earlier, outgoing Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief-of-Staff, Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., said the AFP’s decision was based on recommendations of the Regional Peace and Order Councils, Commission on Elections, local government units, and other agencies to extend martial law “at least one year” in Mindanao.

In a recent Palace press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the safety of the people of Mindanao is always the basis for any extension of martial law.

“If the threats remain and there is still an ongoing rebellion, then constitutionally, the basis would be valid for continuation of martial law,” Panelo said.

Duterte placed Mindanao under martial law on May 23, 2017 following attacks launched by the terrorist Maute Group in Marawi City.

At the height of the six-month Marawi conflict in July last year, the House granted Duterte’s request for martial law extension until Dec. 31, 2017.

The House and the Senate granted anew the President’s request for the extension of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus for a year, from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2018.

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