By Charissa Luci-Atienza
After more than four hours of deliberations, Congress, in a joint session, gave in to President Rodrigo Duterte’s request to extend martial law and suspend the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao from January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018.
A total of 240 members of Congress voted in favor of the martial law extension, while 27 rejected it. The Senate voted 14-4, while House of Representatives voted 226- 23.
Before the nominal voting, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III and House Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas made a motion to further extend Duterte’s martial law proclamation.
The President has asked Congress to extend martial law in the region for one year “to quell rebellion completely” in Mindanao.
“Despite the liberation of Marawi City, and the eerie silence in the main battlefield, a state of actual rebellion subsists in Mindanao, perpetrated not only by remnants of the DAESH-inspired DWIM, but also by other local and foreign terrorist groups, including the New People’s Army, and ready to explode anew at any given time,” Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea told the joint session.
“Public safety requires a further extension of martial law and suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao, in order to quell this rebellion completely,” he pointed out.
The Malacanang official clarified that they are not seeking “unlimited” martial law, but “unlimited” peace and stability in the strife-torn region.
On May 23, 2017, President Duterte imposed martial law in Mindanao for 60 days due to the Marawi siege.
He requested Congress to extend martial law in the region until December 31,2017 and, in a special joint session on July 22 this year, a total of 261 Congress members, including 16 senators approved the President’s request.
Liberal Party senators and congressmen vehemently opposed the extension of martial law, citing that it is unconstitutional.