The military and the national police have reportedly formally recommended to the President the extension of martial law for another year or up to the end of 2019.
Joint Congress session on martial law extension set
Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) - December 7, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives and the Senate will meet in joint session next week to tackle the proposed extension of martial law in Mindanao.

“The joint session is set for Wednesday,” House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. said yesterday in a text message.

Andaya said they have not received President Duterte’s request for Congress to extend martial rule, but that they expect to get it later this week or early next week.

He said they also expect to get a briefing from defense and military officials before their joint session.

The military and the national police have reportedly formally recommended to the President the extension of martial law for another year or up to the end of 2019.

Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Andaya have assured the President that the House would give its concurrence to the extension if Duterte asks for it. Senators, on the other hand, are reportedly divided on the issue.

“If it comes to our chamber, I will recommend that we pass it,” Arroyo told reporters on Wednesday.

Andaya said if Duterte makes a request, it would be granted.

“The concurrence will be expedited if the military and the police will renew their commitment to respect the constitutional rights of every individual in the territory covered by the declaration,” he said.

Other administration congressmen said they would support an extension request from Duterte.

“It is the President, the military and our colleagues from Mindanao know the situation in the area. We have to rely on their word. We cannot pretend to know better,” Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III said.

Rep. Michael Romero of party-list group 1-Pacman said martial law would ensure the continued safety of residents, their properties and business establishments.

“Businesses should thrive. Peace of mind is priceless. If there is peace, then there is stability. And with stability comes progress,” he said.

Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte, chairman of the House defense committee, said he would support a request from the President and would listen to the views of his colleagues from Mindanao.

“Mindanaoans are the ones experiencing what it’s like to live under martial law for a year and a half now. They would have a better grasp of what is an acceptable option for them for continued peace and security,” he said.

As expected, opposition and leftist lawmakers said they would oppose the extension of martial law.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said an extension would have no constitutional basis, since there is no actual rebellion in Mindanao.

Lagman said he and his opposition colleagues would question a third extension before the Supreme Court.

They questioned before the high court the decision of the President to proclaim martial rule in mid-2017, but the tribunal upheld the proclamation. They no longer challenged its first extension up to the end of last year and its second extension up to the end of this year.

Leftist lawmakers said another extension would just promote human rights violations in Mindanao.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR), for its part, reiterated its position against the extension of martial law in Mindanao.

“If peace and order is the problem in Mindanao, then the answer is effective law enforcement and not the declaration of martial law,” CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said.

“We don’t see the justification for it. The law is very clear. It’s invasion, it’s rebellion, we don’t have that now to justify another extension of martial law in Mindanao,” she added.

De Guia noted the country’s security forces are fully capable of addressing lawless violence in the country without the need for martial law. 

“There has to be a strong reason should the government move for another extension – based on the sound recommendation of our Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police on the real situation on the ground,” she added.

Mags Maglana, convenor of Mindanao-based human rights group Konsyensya Dabaw, belied claims that there is no opposition to martial law among those living in the southern part of the country.

“You don’t need martial law to respond to criminality. The government has enough power to respond to crimes,” she added.

Karapatan said they have recorded incidents of harassment in Mindanao, denying that all is well under martial law. – With Janvic Mateo

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