House awaits Duterte’s word on martial law extension in Mindanao

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Reuters file photo of President Rodrigo Duterte

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives is awaiting word from President Rodrigo Duterte on the extension of martial law in Mindanao.

Congress approved a resolution on July 22 this year to extend for five months Duterte’s Proclamation No. 216, which imposed a 60-day martial rule in Mindanao on May 23 amid terrorist attacks by the Islamic State-inspired Maute group.

The 1987 Constitution states that any extension of martial rule must be approved by Congress. The proclamation is in effect until December 31, 2017.

“We have not received anything from the Office of the President about martial law extension,” Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas said.

“Without any extension made by Congress, the martial law shall only last until December 3, 2017,” he said.

In a radio interview, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said Mindanaoans like him wanted the region to be still under martial rule.

Gusto na rin namin itong martial law, kasi sa dami ng threat ng terrorism, kidnapping. So para sa amin, walang diperensya, mas safe ang feeling ng mga residente, halimbawa, gusto namin iyong checkpoints from time to time,” he said.

[We already like martial law because there are many threats of terrorism and kidnapping. So for us, there isn’t a difference, the residents feel it’s safer, like we want checkpoints from time to time.]

Asked about the possibility of holding a special session to tackle the martial law extension, Alvarez said, “Ang hirap yata na gawin no’n dahil karamihan ng kongresista matagal na naka-schedule ‘yan, matagal na naka-program iyong kanilang pagbabakasyon.”

[That maybe difficult to do because most congressmen have already scheduled their vacations.]

Congress will hold session until December 13 before it goes on Christmas break.