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MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Malacañang on Wednesday, December 13, called on the public to rally behind the government in stamping out terrorism and the “continuing rebellion” in Mindanao, after Congress granted President Rodrigo Duterte’s request to keep the region under martial rule until the end of 2018.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement welcoming the grant of a one-year extension that the government’s “primordial concern” in making the request is “public safety.”
“We ask the public to stand behind the administration and rally behind our defenders to quell the continuing rebellion in Mindanao; eradicate the DAESH-inspired Da’awatul Islamiyah Waliyatul Masriq (DIWM) and other like-minded local or foreign terrorist groups and armed lawless groups, and the communist terrorists and their coddlers, supporters and financiers,” he said.
Voting 240-27, Congress approved Duterte’s request in a joint session on Wednesday, extending martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao until December 31, 2018. Both were supposed to lapse at the end of the year.
Calling for unity, Roque said: “This is everyone’s shared responsibility. Together, we will prevail.”
In a separate statement, the Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson Colonel Edgard Arevalo said the decision of Congress to grant the President’s request is “an acknowledgement of the grounds we have cited that need immediate and decisive actions,” and cited the”need to quell the ongoing rebellion in Mindanao and prevent its spread to other parts of the country.”
“The military will faithfully perform its mandate to protect the people and secure the state,” he added.
The 17th Congress, voting 240-27, approved the martial law extension Duterte had asked for during a joint session at the Batasan Complex. Malacañang had earlier expressed confidence that Congress would grant Duterte’s request.
The Senate and the House of Representatives also extended by a year the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, which would allow the government to arrest persons of interest without a warrant. (READ: Martial Law 101: Things you should know)
This is the second extension granted to the President. Congress earlier granted Duterte’s request for a 5-month martial law extension, which was supposed to end on December 31 this year.
Some lawmakers, in their speeches during the joint session, expressed their opposition to martial law extension, saying it has no legal basis since the Duterte government was unable to convince them of a state of rebellion or invasion in Mindanao.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon warned Duterte would expand martial law to cover the entire nation after his second extension request explicitly identified the New People’s Army as “terrorist communists” to be targeted by martial law. (READ: Drilon: Martial law extension ‘prelude’ to PH-wide declaration?) – With a report from Carmela Fonbuena/Rappler.com