• Congress races against time to decide on martial law extension

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    CONGRESS will only have until 10 p.m. on Saturday to approve the five-month extension of martial law and suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao, lawmakers at the House of Representatives said on Thursday.

    Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas and Rep. Ariel Casilao of Anakpawis party-list said that under the Con-stitution, the President could declare martial law for an initial period of 60 days in case of rebellion, in-vasion or when public safety requires it.

    In the case of President Rodrigo Duterte, he declared martial law in the entire Mindanao on May 23 to suppress an alleged rebellion by the Islamic State-inspired Maute group that started in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur. Under Proclamation 216, the 60-day effectivity will expire at 10 p.m., Saturday, on July 22.

    In his letter to Congress where he asked for an extension of martial law in Mindanao, the President argued that aside from Maute, there was also a threat of rebellion from three other groups— the Abu Sayyaf, Ansarul Khilafah Philippines and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

    The House and the Senate will hold a special joint session on Saturday to decide on the President’s proposal to extend martial law by another five months—the first time that the two houses of Con-gress will convene for a vote on Proclamation 216 under the 1987 Constitution.

    “The special joint session won’t go beyond 10 p.m,” Fariñas said.

    “An extension should be approved by 10 p.m. because you can’t extend something that [has]already lapsed,” Casilao added.

    The Constitution allows the President to ask Congress for an extension even beyond 60 days, and Congress can extend such proclamation in a joint vote by the House and the Senate.

    The special joint session of Congress on July 22 will start at 9 a.m.

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