MALACANANG has welcomed Congress’ approval of President Rodrigo Duterte’s request to extend his declaration of martial law in Mindanao until December 31 amid the long-drawn siege between state troops and Islamic State-linked terrorists in Marawi City.
In a statement after the vote on Saturday, Palace spokesman Ernesto Abella said Malacañang thanked Congress for approving the extension of martial law, which he said “was essential to the overall peace and stability.”
“The nation has chosen to stand united in defending the Republic… The rebellion in Marawi continues to persist and we want to stop the spread of the evil ideology of terrorism and free the people of Mindanao from the tyranny of lawlessness and violent extremism,” Abella said.
“Now that the debate is over, let us get on with the job of nation-building and contribute in the attainment of the full promise of Mindanao. There is much work to be done to bring back public safety and law and order in the whole island of Mindanao. There is much work to be done in the recovery, reconstruction and rehabilitation of Marawi. Together, let us transform Mindanao into a land of fulfillment,” he added.
In a special joint session on Saturday, Congress, dominated by Duterte’s allies, heeded the President’s request despite opposition from minority lawmakers.
A total of 261 lawmakers voted to extend martial law while 18 rejected the proposal.
Voting separately, 16 senators approved to extend martial law in Mindanao until the end of the year while four rejected the proposal.
Meanwhile, 245 representatives voted ‘yes’ while 14 others voted ‘no.’
Duterte had called on Congress to extend martial law in Mindanao until the end of the year, saying government troops could not resolve the Marawi crisis by Saturday, the end of his 60-day martial law proclamation.
“For this reason, that because public safety requires it, I call upon the Congress to extend until 31st of December 2017, or for such a period of time as the Congress may determine, the proclamation of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in the whole of Mindanao,” said Duterte in his letter.
The martial law proclamation was made on May 23, after government troops who were supposed to arrest international terrorist Isnilon Hapilon encountered the Maute terror group in Marawi City.
Under Section 18, Article 7 of the 1987 Constitution, the President has the power to declare martial law, in case of invasion or rebellion, for a period not exceeding 60 days.