MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – As expected, the 17th Congress granted President Rodrigo Duterte’s request to extend martial law in Mindanao to December 31.
The Senate and the House of Representatives in a joint session on Saturday, July 22, voted 261-18 in favor of the President’s request. No one abstained among those present. (LIST: How the 17th Congress voted on the martial law extension)
“Pursuant to the Constitution and the rules of the joint session, the motion to extend the proclamation of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is hereby approved by the Congress,” House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez announced, as members of Congress clapped.
Below is the breakdown of votes:
- Senators: 16 “yes” votes, 4 “no” votes
- Members of the House of Representatives: 245 “yes” votes, 14 “no” votes
The overwhelming vote supporting the extension of martial law was not surprising, with Duterte counting a majority of lawmakers and senators as his allies. (READ: LIST: How the 17th Congress vote on martial law extension)
Duterte had declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23 through Proclamation Number 216 after government troops clashed with homegrown terrorists from the Maute Group and Abu Sayyaf Group in Marawi City.
The 1987 Constitution only allows the President to declare martial law for a maximum of 60 days or until July 22 in this case. Any extension would require from both houses of Congress.
Two months since Duterte issued Proclamation Number 216, however, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police have not yet neutralized the rebels.
Duterte then wrote a letter to Congress asking for an extension until the end of the year, citing the “evolving” urban warfare that is making it difficult for the military and the police to end the fighting in Marawi.
Congress had previously refused to convene jointly to discuss the merits of Duterte’s declaration of martial law.