Duterte thanks Congress for extending martial law in Mindanao

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte thanked the Senate and House of Representatives for granting his request to extend his martial law law declaration in Mindanao until the end of 2018. 

"I would like to thank Congress for understanding the plight of the Filipino," Duterte said on Wednesday, December 13, during the demilitarization of firearms seized from terrorists in Marawi City. 

He issued the statement a few hours after Congress voted to grant his request. (READ: LIST: How the House voted on martial law extension in Mindanao)

Duterte stressed that the government would have a harder time quelling security threats in Mindanao without martial law. 

"Without the auxiliary powers attached to the implementor, we will have a difficult time. How many hours can we detain a person? The most is 36 hours," Duterte said in a mix of English and Filipino. 

With the one-year extension of the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus granted by Congress along with martial law extension, the military can arrest persons suspected of rebellion without a warrant and can detain them for 3 days.

If they are not judicially-charged within 3 days, they must be released.

Duterte said that while the presidency affords him many powers to deal with terrorists and rebels, the breadth of the problem may be too large, even for such powers.

"I'm President, I would just order. But the problem is, are the dimensions of your capabilities enough?" he said.

Duterte described the one-year duration of the extension as a "big window for all of us." 

Duterte, facing hundreds of crushed firearms from the Marawi siege, said the destruction of the weapons signified the government's commitment to "defend our freedom and democratic instituions against those who sow fear through violence and destruction."

Critics in Congress have expressed concern that the martial law extension would pave the way for the expansion of an "indefinite" martial law nationwide. They also said the extension is "unconstitutional" as there was no continuing rebellion in Mindanao, contrary to the claim of the government. (READ: Drilon: Martial law extension 'prelude' to PH-wide declaration?) – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.