Only Pres. Duterte can request extension of martial law — Pimentel

MANILA — Only Pres. Rodrigo Duterte can request for an extension of martial law in Mindanao, Senate Pres. Aquilino Pimentel III said in response to House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez’s proposed extension.

Alvarez earlier proposed a five-year martial law to rid Mindanao of not just the Maute Group but other terror groups as well.

“…Ang aking position is extension of martial law must be requested by the president. So, dapat sa kanya manggaling yung idea na kailangan ng extension hindi po galing sa kahit kanino (My position is that the extension of martial law must be requested by the president. The idea to extend it must come from him and not anyone else),” Pimentel told reporters in an interview.

“Siguro ang ginawa lang ni Speaker is pag merong request, he is open up to that period of time. Tinelegraph niya lang yung kanyang personal position (Perhaps what speaker proposed was if there would be a request, he would be open to that period of time. He merely telegraphed his personal position),” he added.

Duterte’s declaration of martial law will lapse on July 22.

Pimentel said that a Senate security briefing with the martial law administrator and implementor, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief-of-Staff Eduardo Año, respectively, has yet to be scheduled.

He said that it is only after the security briefing that they can decide on the timeframe.

He also clarified that the meeting with some senators, Department of Interior and Local Government officer-in-charge Catalino Cuy and Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa on Tuesday was merely a request from Cuy.

“The DILG OIC requested for a briefing. Requested for an opportunity to brief me about Marawi law and order situation,” Pimentel said.

“The martial law briefing must be given by the martial law administrator who is the Secretary of National Defense and the martial law implementor who is the AFP Chief of Staff plus the National Security adviser,” he added.

Two other senators were also open to the possible extension of martial law but noted that it is best to wait the security briefing before deciding on the timeframe of any extension.

Sen. Nancy Binay, like Pimentel, said that she would rather wait for the security briefing before giving a timeframe.

Binay said that she wanted to “restrict” the implementation of martial law to Lano del Sur noting its possible negative effects to tourism.

“Siguro nga tingnan muna natin kung ano yung mangyayari sa security briefing bago siguro natin bigyan ng timeframe yung pagkakaroon ng martial law kasi alam ninyo sa akin ang concern ko talaga bilang chairwoman ng Commitee on Tourism, talagang naaapektuhan ngayon yung industriya ng turismo pagdating dito sa usapin ng martial law (I think let’s see what will happen during the security briefing before we give martial law a timeframe because my concern here as chairwoman of the Committee on Tourism, is that the tourism industry is really being affected),” Binay said.

“Maganda ngang pag-aralan din baka pwedeng i-ano [restrict] hanggang Lanao na lang yung coverage ng martial law (It would be worth reviewing if we can restrict the coverage of martial law to Lanao)?” she added.

Neophyte Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said that Alvarez’s proposed five-year martial law has “no basis”.

“Sa akin, walang basis ang five years, dahil we want to get this over as fast as we can at gusto natin na magkaroon ng sense of normality na sa Mindanao at sa buong bansa (To me, five years has no basis because we want to get this over as fast as we can and we want there to be a sense of normality in Mindanao and the whole country),” Gatchalian said.

Gatchalian, chair of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs, said that a five-year martial law extension could also send a “wrong signal” to potential investors in Mindanao.

He further said that prior to the martial law, there were several investors eyeing Mindanao. A five-year martial law, he said could make investors “hesitate”.

The neophyte senator, however, said that he was open to a martial law extension but also stressed that he would wait for updates from the security briefing. Azer N. Parrocha/

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