By Ellson Quismorio
Whether or not martial law in Mindanao will be extended or not will be known next week or during the final session dates of Congress for 2017, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has hinted.
In a DZRH radio interview Thursday, Alvarez said that President Rodrigo Duterte only has until this week to formally make a request to lawmakers for the extension of martial law in the southern islands, that is, if he wants it to last beyond December 31, 2017.
“Kailangang mag-communicate sila sa amin within the week, para by next week puwede na naming talakayin iyan, kung aaprubahan or hindi (They have to communicate with us within the week so that we can discuss it by next week whether it will be approved or not),” Alvarez said.
The extension of military rule needs to be approved by both chambers of Congress (House of Representatives and Senate) through a joint session. The sessions this year will only last up to December 13, Wednesday.
By Thursday, December 14, the lawmakers will have begun their month-long Christmas break.
The Speaker said the chance of holding a special session is bleak.
Alvarez said it would be difficult as “all lawmakers have programmed themselves to go on vacation. This is Christmas. This is unlike other breaks where lawmakers can still be summoned.”
Duterte declared martial law over Mindanao last May 23 after some 800 to 1,000 ISIS-inspired Maute Group terrorists occupied Marawi City in Lanao del Sur.
This initial declaration of martial law was supposed to last only two months, but the President sought an extension in July amid the sine die adjournment of Congress. A joint session ensued wherein martial law was extended up to the end of the year.
The legislature, especially the House, is dominated by Duterte’s allies. Alvarez is a party-mate and long-time friend of the President’s.
The Chief Executive declared military victory in Marawi after five months of fighting.
Alvarez, who represents the 1st district of Davao del Norte, has mentioned before that he favors that martial law in Mindanao to last until the end of Duterte’s term in 2022.