By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
President Duterte has called for a special session of Congress on Saturday for the possible extension of martial law in Mindanao.
This was confirmed by Malacañang on Monday following the submission to the President of the recommendation of the Department of National Defense (DND) and Philippine National Police (PNP) on whether to extend or terminate martial law in Mindanao.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the President’s call for a special session is necessitated by the exigency to deliberate on the possible extension of the period of effectivity of Proclamation No. 216 in Mindanao.
“Congress has to discuss and consider the actual parameters to extend martial law and suspension of the privilege writ of habeas corpus,” Abella said in a text message.
Duterte signed Proclamation No. 216 declaring martial law in Mindanao and suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in the entire island due to the insurgency in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur on May 23, 2017 while on an official visit to Russia.
The 1987 Constitution allows the President to declare martial law for 60 days. Duterte’s Proclamation No. 216 is set to expire on Saturday, July 22.
House Majority Leader Rudy Fariñas and Senate Majority Leader Tito Sotto earlier confirmed that Duterte called for a special session on Saturday to seek to extend martial law in Mindanao for another 60 days.
Abella, during the Mindanao Hour press briefing yesterday morning, said the primary consideration of the President on making the decision on the fate of martial law will be the existence of threat to public safety especially in concerned areas.
However, Duterte, in an ambush interview in Malacañang Monday evening said he has not yet read the recommendation submitted by the DND to him on Thursday.
“‘Di pa po (I haven’t read it yet). I just came in last night. Galing ako ng Mindanao (I came from Mindanao),” he said.
“Basta maghintay na yan sila dyan (They will just have to wait). If the police and the military would tell me that it is safe now then that’s it. What the use of declaring?” Duterte said.
AFP Chief-of-Staff Eduardo Año, in an interview in Camp Aguinaldo yesterday, said that while he cannot disclose the contents of the AFP’s recommendation, he said the AFP will support whatever decision the President makes.
“We cannot disclose our recommendation because ‘yung sa amin, military aspect lang ‘yun (ours is only the military aspect),” he said.
“The President will have to look at all other aspecst and factors, even political. And whatever the decision of the President, the AFP will support it,” he added.
PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa expressed his desire to have martial law extended but Padilla on Friday morning said that Dela Rosa’s input is just one of the many being considered in the report.
As of July 16, 2017, the AFP has reported a total of 45 civilians, 97 government troops, and 405 terrorists killed in the war in Marawi.