The Senate voted 12-5-1, while the House of Representatives voted 223-23 in favor of extending the declaration of military rule in the southern Philippines for another year.
The STAR/Michael Varcas, File
Congress extends martial law in Mindanao to end of 2019
Gaea Katreena Cabico (philstar.com) - December 12, 2018 - 1:23pm

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 2:28 p.m.)  The 17th Congress approved on Wednesday President Rodrigo Duterte’s request for the extension of martial in Mindanao for another year up to the end of 2019.

Twelve senators voted in favor of the joint resolution that sought to extend martial law in Mindanao and suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. Only minority Sens. Franklin Drilon, Francis Pangilinan, Bam Aquino, Risa Hontiveros, and Francis Escudero of the majority bloc voted against.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto abstained from voting. 

Two hundred twenty-three representatives from the lower house voted in affirmative, while 23 voted in negative. 

In all, 235 members of Congress voted to approve the extension while 28 voted against and only one abstained.

This is the third extension granted to the president. Toward the latter part of 2017, Duterte asked Congress to lengthen his martial law declaration in May by six months. Before the previous year ended, he appealed for a one-year extension up to the end of this year.

In a letter submitted to the two houses, the chief executive said that security assessment by the police and military indicated that rebellion still persists in Mindanao.

Duterte noted that the Abu Sayyaf Group, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, Daulah Islamiyah and other terrorist groups continue to perpetuate threat in the entire region. He also mentioned communist groups, which he said, pose serious security concerns.

During the joint session of Congress, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea claimed that Mindanao remains to be “in the midst of rebellion” and that the whole island is a “hotbed of communist insurgency in the country.”

“We cannot afford to show enemies a moment of weakness in our resolve to defeat them. We cannot falter or else we lose our progress,” Medialdea said.

The chief executive declared martial law in Mindanao following the breakout of Marawi siege in May 2017.

Martial law an ‘extraordinary measure’

A handful of lawmakers opposed another extension of martial law in the entire island, stressing there is no ground that necessitates such move.

Drilon, Senate minority leader, stressed out there is no “actual rebellion or armed uprising” in the entire island. The Constitution is clear that martial law may be declared only in cases of actual rebellion when public safety requires it.

He then urged his colleagues not to normalize the declaration of martial law.

“Martial law is the highest form of self-preservation, it cannot be the norm. We cannot make martial law as an instrument to make governance more effective. That was never the intention of our framers,” Drilon said.

Pangilinan also said that the prolonged extension of martial law in Mindanao is in violation of the constitution.

“We reiterate that martial law under the 1987 Constitution is an extraordinary measure imposed only under the extreme situation of rebellion or actual invasion and only for a limited period… We cannot understand how two years is defined as a limited period,” he said.

The opposition lawmaker added: “Prolonged martial law in a large area affecting the lives of millions of our citizens is authoritarian and contrary to the constitutional democracy. Worse, it will not improve the economic welfare of our citizens.”

Palace lauds Congress approval of martial law

Malacañang called the approval of both houses of Congress of the extension of martial law and the suspension of the prolonged privilege of the writ of habeas corpus a “positive development.”

“We thank our lawmakers for sharing the executive’s view that the extension is purely intended for the general welfare and well being of the people of Mindanao,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement. 

Panelo, who is also the president’s chief legal counsel, said that substantial progress in addressing the so-called rebellion in Mindanao and promoting the security in the area are expected with the third extension of military rule. 

“Rest assured that the fundamental rights and liberties of our citizens shall at all times be respected and that our uniformed services shall act strictly within the confines of their mandate,” he said. 

As Congress met to deliberate on the extension, a group of Southeast Asian lawmakers warned that the further extension of martial law would put human rights of people in Mindanao at risk. 

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, chief implementor of martial law, said during the joint session that law-abiding citizens have nothing to fear from martial law. He also claimed that only terrorists are afraid of it.

MARTIAL LAW MARTIAL LAW IN MINDANAO RODRIGO DUTERTE
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