Duterte wants martial law extended till end-2017

MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte has asked Congress to extend the period of Martial Law in Mindanao until the end of the year, Malacañang said Tuesday.

At a Palace briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said that in the letter sent by the President to the leaders of Congress Monday evening, the extension was called for as the “existing rebellion in Mindanao will not be quelled completely by the July 22,” the expiration of the 60-day period of the initial martial law proclamation.

“Upon a thorough personal assessment of the current situation in Marawi City and other parts of Mindanao and taking into account the reports and recommendations of the Secretary of National Defense as martial law administrator, the chief-of-staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as martial law implementor and the chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), I have come to the conclusion that the existing rebellion in Mindanao which prompted me to issue Proclamation 216 on 23rd May 2017, will not be quelled completely by the 22nd July 2017 — the last day of 60-day period provided under Section 18 Article VII of the 1987 Constitution,” President Duterte said in the letter read by Abella.

“For this reason and because public safety requires it, I call upon the Congress to extend until 31st December 2017 or for such a period of time as the Congress may determine the proclamation of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in the whole of Mindanao,” the President’s message said.

Duterte has also called on Congress to convene in a special session Saturday to deliberate and consider his request.

In the meantime, Abella said that “the primary objective of the possible extension of martial law is to allow government forces to continue with their operation, unhampered by deadlines and to focus more on the liberation of Marawi and its rehabilitation and rebuilding.”

He also clarified that it is up to Congress to decide on the actual duration of the extension.

“Ito po ‘yung sinabi ng sulat, ‘yan po ang nire-request niya (Duterte) — until 31st of December or for such period of time as the Congress may determine. Nasa Kongreso po in order to decide,” Abella said.

President Duterte declared martial law and suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in the whole of Mindanao last May 23 following an attack by the Islamic State-inspired Maute group in Marawi City.

According to the latest update provided by Malacañang on the Marawi siege, 413 militants have been killed while 511 high-powered firearms have been recovered from the terror group.

In the meantime, 98 government forces have died in fighting while 45 civilians have so far been confirmed to have died in the hands of the terrorists. Cielito Reganit/

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