By Philippine News Agency
The House of Representatives and the Senate on Wednesday convened in a joint session to decide on whether or not to approve President Rodrigo Duterte’s request for a one-year extension of martial law in Mindanao.
The joint session started at 9:10 a.m. with 14 senators and 216 congressmen responding to the roll call.
Under the Constitution, the Congress, voting jointly, has the sole power to extend martial law. A majority vote of the two chambers–or at least 158 members–voting jointly is needed to pass the motion.
The resolution of both Houses informing the President that the Congress has convened in a joint session was adopted, as well as the rules governing the joint session on martial law extension.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Tuesday expressed confidence that Congress would approve President Rodrigo Duterte’s request for a full-year extension of martial law in Mindanao.
Alvarez said as a Mindanaoan, he sees no reason why the second martial law extension would not be granted.
House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, for his part, said majority of the House members are “overwhelmingly in favor” of President Rodrigo Duterte’s request for a full-year extension of martial law in Mindanao.
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said he expects Congress to approve the extension of martial law extension in Mindanao for another year despite possible opposition by the minority.
In his letter dated December 8, President Duterte asked Congress to further extend the declaration of martial law in the whole of Mindanao for the entirety of 2018 to totally eradicate terror threats posed by remnants of Islamic State (IS)-linked terrorists and by communist rebels in the region.
He said extending the martial law for another year would help state security forces to crush the rebellion in Mindanao and ensure public safety.
Duterte highlighted the different threats facing Mindanao, which were part of the security assessment submitted to Malacañang by the AFP and the PNP.
He said that despite the deaths of almost a thousand IS-inspired extremists, including their leaders, in the battle of Marawi, remnants of the group and their supporters have continued their recruitment and training of new members “to carry on the rebellion.”
President Duterte declared the entire Mindanao under martial law on May 23, 2017 after IS-inspired terrorists laid siege in Marawi City.
Congress, in a special joint session, granted the extension of martial law until December 31 on President Duterte’s request.
In October, Lorenzana announced the end of the five-month-long conflict between government forces and Maute terrorists in Marawi City following the death of top terrorist leaders Omar Maute and Isnilon Hapilon.