By Genalyn Kabiling and Vanne Elaine Terrazola
President Duterte is seeking another extension of martial law in Mindanao upon the recommendation of the military and police forces.
The President has called on Congress to support the extension of martial law for another year in the south, according to Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.
“One year and Mindanao,” Medialdea said about the President’s decision on the proposed martial law extension.
“It’s the SP (Senate President) and Speaker who would call for a joint session probably on the President’s request for the extension of martial law,” he added.
Waiting for President’s letter
Meanwhile, Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Friday said the Chief Executive has already expressed his intention to ask the Senate and House of Representatives to convene a joint session to vote on this. But he noted that Duterte has yet to make official his appeal for a joint session.
“I’m still waiting for the President’s letter re joint session. He sent me a message saying he might call for it on Wednesday, December 12. But nothing is concrete until I receive his letter,” Sotto told reporters in a text message.
Sotto said lawmakers are scheduled to meet officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Monday next week for a briefing on their recommendation to extend the implementation of the military rule.
The President declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23, 2017 to quell threats of rebellion and lawless violence following the terror siege in Marawi City. The martial law proclamation is scheduled to expire on December 31,2018 after the extension previously granted by Congress.
Both the military and police have reportedly recommended to the President a yearlong extension of martial law to help address lingering terror threats in the region.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo earlier said the President might be persuaded to prolong martial law in the south due to the support of the military, police and the residents to keep peace and order.
“The basis always will be the safety of the people there. If the threat remains and there is still an ongoing rebellion, then constitutionally the basis will be valid for continuation of martial law,” Panelo said.
Sotto said the President has no plan to ask for a special session, even as Congress is set to adjourn on December 12 for the holidays.
Should President Duterte call for a joint session next week, it would be the third time that Congress would hold such session.
The President had first requested Congress to extend martial law in the region until December 31, 2017, which Congress approved during a special joint session in July last year.
In December last year, Congress also granted the President’s request to extend anew martial law from January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018.