PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte said he won’t lift martial law in Mindanao before his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 24, as the situation in conflict-torn Marawi City remained critical.
The 60-day period of martial rule in the south will end on July 22, two days before he delivers his second SONA.
In a talk with reporters during an unannounced visit to the 2nd Mechanized Infantry Brigade in Iligan City on Friday, Duterte said he would lift martial law only if the military and police told him the danger posed by the militants had abated.
“No,” the President said, when asked if martial law would be lifted before his SONA.
“Hindi ako ang nag-ano [I am not the one who determines this]. It’s the armed forces and the police,” he added.
Duterte said he consulted with the military and was told that the situation in Marawi City was still “critical.”
He said he would rely on their advice because “they are the ones keeping this republic healthy and alive.”
“Ang magsabi sa akin na hindi na critical, ang armed forces at ang pulis [Only the armed forces and police can tell me if it is no longer critical]. I do not have an independent study of how things are on the ground,” Duterte said.
“Pag sinabi na nilang wala nang delikado [When they say the situation is no longer delicate] and everything is okay, that’s the time we lift martial law,” he added.
The 1987 Constitution states that Congress, upon the initiative of the President, “may extend such proclamation [of martial law]or the suspension [of the writ of habeas corpus]for a period to be determined by the Congress, if the invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it.”
The Supreme Court in its July 4 ruling that upheld Duterte’s martial law declaration under Proclamation 216, raised the possibility of extending military rule beyond 60 days.
On Friday, Armed Forces spokesman Restituto Padilla Jr. said the military would give its recommendation to Duterte as early as next week.
“Regarding the recommendation whether to extend or stop the implementation of martial law, the assessment is not yet done. The recommendation for the commander in chief needs basis,” Padilla said in Filipino.
“Its assessment or study is still ongoing. We can submit this next week or before the 60-day limit lapses,” he added.
The fighting between government troops and militants, which entered its 46th day on Saturday, has resulted in the deaths of 39 civilians, 353 terrorists, and 87 security troops.
The President has expressed optimism that the armed conflict in Marawi City would end in just a “matter of days,” saying the government forces seemed to be “winning” the battle.
Palace seeks meeting with senators
A lawmaker said Malacañang had asked the Senate for a meeting late next week to discuss “the situation” in Mindanao since martial law since was imposed last May 23 because of the Marawi crisis.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto 3rd on Saturday revealed that a Palace emissary contacted him recently and told him that the Palace wanted to schedule a meeting with the senators.
He clarified that the Palace sought the meeting with the Senate prior to the statement of Senate Minority Leader
Franklin Drilon for President Rodrigo Duterte to first inform Congress of his intention to extend martial law in Mindanao.
“Before that suggestion came out, I was already informed by the Palace that they want to talk. So, that’s okay,” Sotto said in an interview over dwIZ.
Asked when the meeting would take place, the senator said: “Sometime late next week.”
“I was asked to inform the other leaders or other members of the Senate that the Palace is requesting for a meeting,” he added.
The senator said the emissary told him the agenda would be the “situation in Mindanao, and probably leave the decision to us whether to extend (martial law) or whatever.”
WITH BERNADETTE E. TAMAYO