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Martial law extension in Mindanao looms

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(Photo from pcoo.gov)

 

MARAWI CITY (PhilAmPress) – Although the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Department of National Defense and the Philippine National Police (PNP) have not made their recommendation on the martial law in Mindanao as the battle against terrorists in Marawi City has not stopped, President Rodrigo Duterte has hinted he is likely to extend the martial rule when it expires on July 22.

 

This developed as the number of fatalities in the Marawi siege which flared up on May 23 has breached 600 as more soldiers and terrorists are killed in the battle.

 

In a related development, a Second Quarter 2017 survey of the Social Weather Station showed that 57 percent of those surveyed support the declaration of martial law in Mindanao but more than six out of 10 oppose expanding it to Visayas and Luzon.

  

The extension of martial law maybe made before the President delivers his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) before Congress on July 24, two days before the 60-day martial law decree expires.

 

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.

 

While in Iligan City visiting the 2nd Mechanized Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army, Duterte told reporters that he will not lift martial law in Mindanao before his SONA as the situation in Marawi has remained critical.

 

“No,” the President stressed when asked if martial law would be lifted before his SONA.

 

He reiterated that he would make the decision based on the recommendation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and other security forces like the DND and the PNP.

 

Duterte said he had consulted with the military and was told that the situation in Marawi City was still“critical.”

 
“I consulted them and said it was critical. Ang magsabi sa akin na hindi na critical, ang Armed Forces pati ang pulis (Only the Armed Forces and the police can tell me if it is no longer critical),” he said.

 

 “So, I have just to rely on the word of the Armed Forces and the police because they are the one keeping this Republic healthy and alive,” he added.

 

“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 President said that he does not “have an independent study” of the situation on the ground.


 “It’s not my job. And I cannot do it physically even,” he said.

 

PNP chief Director General Ronald de la Rosa, meanwhile, sees the need to extend martial law in Mindanao because the security situation there, particularly in Marawi City, is still critical.

 

De la Rosa and Interior and Local Government Secretary Catalino Cuy briefed some senators on the law and order situation and concerns of local governments in Marawi City. Present during the closed-door briefing were Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, Senate Majority Leader


Vicente Sotto III and Senators Sherwin Gatchalian, Gregorio Honasan II and Joseph Victor Ejercito.

 

President Duterte will meet with members of the Senate majority bloc on July 17, said Sen. Pimentel, adding their agenda would be the “BBL (Bangsamoro Basic Law) and the entire agenda of the Duterte administration, including martial law in Mindanao.”

 

Meanwhile, President Duterte indicated that he needs 10 to 15 more days to end the crisis in Marawi City, adding he was surprised the terrorists have not run out of weapons and ammunition.

 

"Palagay ko, 10 to 15 days, okay na," he said during the 10th listing anniversary of the Davao-based Phoenix Petroleum Philippines, Inc. at the Philippine Stock Exchange in Makati City. "I need 15 more days."

Duterte said he will once again try to go to Marawi City this week after his first two attempts failed due to bad weather. He reiterated that he wants to be with the soldiers while there is still fighting going on.

Echoing Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Duterte said he too was surprised that the Maute group was able to stockpile weapon in the city.

"This is the 45th, 46th day? Hindi maubus-ubos ang [armas], lalo na 'yung grenades," he said.

 

Duterte said he needed to visit Marawi City to check on troops at the frontlines of the government’s battle against pro-ISIS Maute Group fighters in the besieged city. He had already attempted to fly to Marawi twice but each time the weather was not conducive to flying.


“I have to be with the men, the fighting forces of the government. I should show my face there. Hindi naman pwede iyang peace time ka na pumunta,” Duterte said in a brief interview posted on the Facebook page of the Presidential Communications Office.

“Hindi naman na you place yourself in jeopardy, but during the fighting, you should show yourself, that you are one in the desire to protect the Republic,” he added.


“This is the second time. The last time I was not able to go in because also of the weather. Dito naman, ngayon ganoon din nangyari. We were circling many times but we could not penetrate, the weather was really squallid,” he said.


Marawi City has been under siege since May 23, when Maute fighters attacked several key installations in the city. While still in Russia that day, Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao to quell the terrorists rebellion.

 

The AFP has said it would give its recommendation on martial law to the President next week.


Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has previously expressed hope to end the fighting in Marawi in time for Duterte’s second SONA.

 

In the meantime, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said it is already finalizing its recommendations on the possible extension or lifting of martial law.

 

“It’s already being done and in a few days it will be submitted to the (Executive) Secretary for his consideration because he is the administrator of martial law. And that recommendation will make its way up to the Commander-in-Chief who will be provided an advance copy,” AFP Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Resituto Padilla Jr. said during the Mindanao Hour press briefing in Malacañang.

 

He said that the final assessment would be based on whether the rule of law as well as peace and security in most parts of Mindanao had been re-established.

 

The AFP official likewise stressed however that whatever recommendations the military submit, the final decision is up to President Duterte.

 

“The Department of National Defense or the AFP could only recommend, pero ang eventual decision ay kinakailangang manggaling sa political leadership na merong mas malawak na pinag-iisipang o pinagbabatayan ng kanilang desisyon,” Padilla said.

                   
The Supreme Court has upheld Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao.


The SWS survey found that 63% of respondents disagreed with the expansion of martial law in the Visayas and only some 23 percent agreed, while 13% were undecided about the matter.


The survey also found that 67% disagreed with the expansion of martial law in Luzon while only 20% agreed, while 13% were undecided.

 

“Extending martial law is the decision of the President which PRRD said would rest on the assessment and the recommendation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and other stakeholders of the Marawi situation,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement.

 

His statement was issued following remarks by House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez who said that he would push for a five-year extension of martial law.

 

“If I can convince my colleagues, I will push for an extension until 2022, because two months is too short. Five months or one year or two years is too short,” Alvarez said Saturday.

 

However, Abella pointed out that the Speaker has already clarified that “his remarks to extend martial law until 2022 is his personal opinion.” Many senators said they oppose Alvarez proposal.

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