Congress OKs martial law extension by overwhelming majority

Patricia Lourdes Viray - Philstar.com
Congress OKs martial law extension by overwhelming majority

Lawmakers gather for a special joint session on the possible extension of martial law in the southern Philippines, Saturday, July 22, 2017, in Quezon city northeast of Manila, Philippines. Martial Law was declared by President Duterte last May 23 for 60 days following the siege by Muslim militants of Marawi city which is now on its second month. AP/Bullit Marquez

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE 3, 4:55 p.m.) - Majority of the members of the Senate and the House of Representatives voted in favor of extending the declaration of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao.
Voting 16-4, the senators approved the extension of the declaration until December 31 during a special joint session in the Congress.
The House of Representatives voted 245-14 in favor of martial law extension until the end of the year.
In all, 261 members of Congress voted to approve the extension while 18 voted against.  
The following senators voted in favor of extending martial law upon President Rodrigo Duterte's request:
  • Sonny Angara
  • JV Ejercito
  • Francis Escudero
  • Sherwin Gatchalian
  • Richard Gordon
  • Gregorio Honasan
  • Panfilo Lacson
  • Loren Legarda
  • Manny Pacquiao
  • Aquilino Pimentel III
  • Grace Poe
  • Ralph Recto
  • Tito Sotto
  • Joel Villanueva
  • Cynthia Villar
  • Migz Zubiri
Sens. Kiko Pangilinan, Risa Hontiveros, Bam Aquino and Francis Drilon voted against the extension of martial law.
Lawmakers have the option to explain their votes either on the floor or through written statements.

'No evidence to support need for martial law in all of Mindanao'

Sen. Franklin Drilon, minority leader, said that there was no evidence presented to justify the extension of martial law across all of Mindanao.
"The President’s Request for Extension mentioned only 10 out of 27 provinces in Mindanao. Martial law should be limited to those places where actual rebellion continues to exist," he said.
Drilon stressed that he supports the military and the government's efforts to clear Marawi City in Lanao del Sur of Islamic State-inspired local terrorists, whos attacks on the provincial capital prompted the declaration of martial law on May 23.
"With the facts presented to us, however, we are confident that our military will be successful in resolving the crisis for a period of time shorter than the end of the year. We also remain faithful to the Constitution in recommending that the extension will be limited only to the areas directly affected in Mindanao," he said.
Drilon also warned that the approval of the extension of martial law, with the same scope, could lead to martial law across the country, "under the justification of an existing rebellion in Marawi City and the threat, however remote, of rebellious activity spilling over other parts of the country."
Sen. Francis Pangilinan, president of the minority Liberal Party, also questioned the need to extend martial law for 150 more days so security forces in Marawi City can clear four barangays in the city of Islamic State-inspired Maute group and Abu Sayyaf group. He said that the military managed to clear 16 barangays in the past two months.

Sen. Grace Poe, who voted in favor of extension, said that she voted to approve, but with reservations.

"Alam ninyo mas gusto ko sana na mas maikli ang martial law, pero hindi naman natin pwede ding talikuran yung pagsuporta sa mga sundalo doon kung paano nila masusugpo ang rebelyon, so binigyan natin sila ngayon ng pagkakataon pa kasi marami pa nga daw teroristang nagkalat sa lugar na iyon," she told reporters after the voting.

She said, however, that Congress should have a mechanism to review developments in Marawi and the rest of Mindanao as part of its oversight functions.
"[I]tong kapangyarihan ng martial law na ito, kami ang nagpatupad na puwede itong i-extend, kami rin ang puwedeng magpawalang-bisa nito kapag nagkaroon ng abuso," she said.

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