Duterte asks lawmakers for 60-day martial law extension
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – During his meeting with lawmakers on Monday, July 17, President Rodrigo Duterte asked for a 60-day extension of martial law still covering the entire Mindanao. He also requested that the Senate and the House of Representatives hold a special session to discuss this request.
"Sixty days of martial law extension and still over entire Mindanao," said Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III in a message to Rappler.
He was asked what Duterte verbally requested from lawmakers during the meeting.
Duterte's requested period of extension was not heard by all lawmakers he met with. He mentioned it while seated with Pimentel, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, and Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano.
Two other officials in that table confirmed that the President wants a 60-day extension.
Pimentel, however, said that the President's letter to Congress with the final details on his request for martial law extension is yet to be transmitted.
Fariñas, meanwhile, announced that both chambers of the 17th Congress will convene jointly on Saturday, July 22, to consider the President's request.
"The President will call the Congress to a special session on Saturday, July 22, 2017 at 9 am to consider the extension of martial law," said Fariñas.
The 1987 Constitution only allows Duterte to declare martial law for a maximum of 60 days or until July 22 in this case. Any extension would require approval from both the Senate and the House, where Duterte counts most lawmakers as his allies.
The joint session will be held at the plenary session hall of the Batasang Pambansa.
Earlier on Monday, Deputy Speakers Fredenil Castro and Gwen Garcia said Congress will likely approve the extension of martial law.
Despite criticism, Congress had previously refused to convene jointly to discuss the merits of Proclamation No. 216.
Battle goes on
Nearly two months since Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) are still trying to flush out the remaining terrorists in Marawi City.
This is why PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa said the police and the military asked Duterte for an extension of martial law in Mindanao.
In a media interview right before his meeting with lawmakers on Monday, Duterte said he had not yet read the martial law recommendation of the AFP and the PNP.
Clashes between government troops and homegrown terrorists from the Maute Group and Abu Sayyaf Group began in Marawi City on May 23, prompting Duterte to declare martial law in the entire Mindanao.
Petitions against martial law were filed before the Supreme Court, but the justices upheld the proclamation in a vote of 11-3-1. – Rappler.com