By Genalyn Kabiling
The lingering rebellion in Mindanao has prompted President Duterte to seek an extension of martial law in the south for another year to ensure public safety, Malacañang said Friday.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo has cautioned that lifting martial law in the restive south might strengthen the rebellion and “propel it to other parts of the country.”
The President earlier approved the military and police recommendation to prolong martial law in Mindanao and has relayed his request to Congress on the matter. Martial law in Mindanao, first declared by the President in May 2017 following the terror siege in Marawi City, will expire at end of the month.
“The Palace confirms that the President has requested Congress to approve the further extension of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in the whole of Mindanao for another year starting next month,” Panelo said.
Panelo cited that with martial law in place, substantial progress has been achieved in addressing the rebellion in Mindanao as well as promoting the overall security and peace and order situation. Such situation also led to noteworthy economic developments in the locality, he added.
“Despite these, however, rebellion still persists and the public safety compels our Commander-in-Chief to push through with the exercise of these constitutionally-sanctioned powers in order to serve and protect our nation and its people,” Panelo said.
“A halt may only frustrate the progress we are witnessing in Mindanao and may even strengthen the rebellion and propel it to other parts of the country,” he added.
The Palace meantime left to the discretion of Congress to decide on the proposed martial law extension in Mindanao.
“The request to extend martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao has already been communicated by the President to the leadership of both Houses of Congress,” Panelo said.
“While it is now up to Congress to decide on whether this initiative by the President is justified or not, we are positive that it will share our views as ours are purely intended for the general welfare of our brothers and sisters in Mindanao,” he added.
Under the Constitution, the President may declare martial law and suspend the privilege of writ of habeas corpus for a period not exceeding 60 days “in case of invasion or rebellion when the public safety requires it.”
The Constitution also states that “upon the initiative of the President, the Congress may, in the same manner, extend such proclamation or suspension for a period to be determined by the Congress, if the invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it.”