• Pimentel backs Drilon, says only Congress can extend martial law

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    SENATE President Aquilino Pimentel 3rd on Friday backed Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon’s position that President Rodrigo Duterte must inform Congress if he wants to extend martial law in Mindanao.

    Drilon on Thursday said only Congress could extend the martial law proclamation. “It is the President who initiates that there must be an extension and it behooves Congress to approve it,” he said.

    The President issued on May 23 Proclamation 216 placing Mindanao under martial law to quell the Maute group’s rebellion and end the crisis in Marawi City. The maximum 60-day duration of martial law under the 1987 Constitution ends on July 22.

    The Supreme Court on July 4 upheld the declaration of martial law and the suspension the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, allowing warrantless arrests, in Mindanao.

    Drilon suggested that “to avoid any question, the President should advise Congress that it is his intention to extend martial law.”

    Pimentel said: “I agree with Senator Drilon. Extension must be requested before the end of the original term.”
    Pimentel said security officials, specifically Chief of Staff Eduardo Año of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), should brief lawmakers on the implementation of military rule.

    “We need a briefing too on the progress of martial law from May 23 up to this time,” the Senate chief said. Asked when briefing will take place, he said, “I’m having it arranged.”

    The 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.”

    At the House of Representatives, House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas said he would back the extension of martial law if requested by the President.

    “The Congress and the Supreme Court have both determined that the proclamation of martial law in Mindanao by the President is proper. If the President requests Congress to extend his proclamation or suspension on the ground that the rebellion is still persisting and public safety requires it, I will support him,” Fariñas said in a statement.

    “President Duterte has shown that he is true to his oath to support and defend the Constitution, and our people continue to express their trust and confidence in him. We should all support him, as well as the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police and all government authorities, in alleviating the suffering of our people in Mindanao,” he added.

    AFP still assessing situation

    Speaking to reporters in Malacañang, AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr. said the military was still conducting its assessment of the martial law implementation.

    “Regarding the recommendation whether to extend or stop the implementation of martial law, the assessment is not yet done,” Padilla said. “The recommendation for the Commander in Chief needs basis.”

    Asked whether the recommendation will be submitted before the 60-day deadline, Padilla said, “Of course. The President will be expecting that.”

    The nearly two-month long crisis has left at least 479 dead: 353 terrorists, 87 government troops and 39 civilians.
    Padilla said Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, the martial law administrator, and Año, the martial law implementor, on Thursday visited Marawi to consult ground commanders.

    The two officials also met with local government officials ahead of the activation of the interagency task force “Bangon Marawi” that will undertake rebuilding efforts.

    “Our Chief of Staff is continuously reiterating the instructions that have been relayed earlier for the organization of our engineering units to be forward-looking and to start working with potential counterparts, particularly in the early recovery of Marawi,” Padilla said.

    “The request of local government as well as the evacuees is to be provided not just tents but primarily elevated habitation that could provide a more decent housing for the Muslim families,” he added.

    3,000 shelters

    Padilla said about 3,000 temporary shelters will be set up for evacuees whose houses were damaged during the conflict.

    “For those whose places of, or residence have not been damaged, once the cessation of hostilities has ended and the all-clear signal has been given, they will be assisted in returning back to their homes with the local government, the provincial government, and the military, as well as all agencies of government under the task force, working hand-in-hand to start restoring back to normalcy the city of Marawi beginning with the basic services that need to be provided,” he explained.

    “Among these basic services are the need for water, electricity, sanitation, and resumption of the economic life of the city through the provision of a temporary area for commercial establishments that could perform and deliver services and transact business,” Padilla added.

    with CATHERINE S. VALENTE AND LLANESCA T. PANTI

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