By Charissa Atienza
Former President and now Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on Wednesday assured that the House of Representatives will immediately act on the formal recommendation seeking to extend martial law in Mindanao for another year until December, 2019.
“If it comes to our Chamber, I will recommend that we pass it,” she told reporters in an interview after attending the House Committee on Disaster Management deliberation on a House resolution seeking to enjoin all government agencies to affirm their commitment and support to facilitate the rebuilding of the cities, municipalities, and barangays in Regions I and II, and the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), severely affected by Typhoon “Ompong” in September, 2018.
She made the assurance after the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chairman ChitoGascon rejected the proposal to extend martial law and suspend the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao for the third time.
Gascon said the military should justify its proposal and prove that there is indeed “lurking” threat of terrorism in Mindanao.
President Duterte is currently studying the proposal to extend martial law and his decision is expected to be announced either today or tomorrow, Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
“He will announce his decision today or tomorrow. He is still studying. Wait for the announcement,”Panelo said.
The President recently said his decision on the martial law situation in Mindanao would depend on the recommendation of the military and the police.
“They are the guys on the ground. I’m here in Pasig River. I am not aware of the nitty-gritty happenings all over the country,”Duterte said in an interview with reporters last Monday.
Armed Forces of the Philippines(AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Carlito Galvez had earlier said “there is really a clamor for extension considering that terrorism is still lurking in the area.”
He the AFP and the Philippine National Police (PNP) will recommend extending martial law in Mindanao from December 31, 2018 to December 31, 2019.
House Majority Floor Leader and Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando “Nonoy” Andaya Jr. said the House leadership will give in to the President’s request to extend martial law in the South.
“If the President will ask for it, then chances are it shall be given,” Andaya, chairman of the House Committee on Rules,said.
He said “the concurrence will be expedited if the military andthe police will renew their commitment to respect the constitutional rights of every individual in the territory covered by thedeclaration.”
He said the “inputs and views of the congressmen from Mindanao, who represent the people directly affected,” will certainly be factored in their deliberations.
On December 13, 2017, Congress, in a joint session, gave in to President Duterte’s request to extend the martial law in Mindanao and suspend the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao from January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018.
A total of 240 Congress members voted in favor of the martial law extension, while 27 rejected it. The Senate’s voting was 14-4, while House of Representatives voted 226- 23. (With a report from Genalyn D. Kabiling)