Philippine Congress agrees to extend martial law in Mindanao

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Congress
The Philippine House of Congress. File photo.

Congress has approved President Duterte’s request to extend martial law in Mindanao for another year, to “put an end to the on-going rebellion”.

A total of 12 senators voted to extend martial rule in the southern island until December 31 next year. Five were against and one abstained.

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On the part of the House, 223 voted to extend, 23 were against and there were no abstentions.

With a final total vote of 235 for an extension, 28 against and one abstention, Congress voted to extend martial rule in

In his letter to Senate President Vicente Sotto and House Speaker Gloria Arroyo dated December 6, the president said “rebellion still persists in Mindanao” and “public safety requires the continuation of martial law”.

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He argued the extension would enable the Army, the police and other law enforcement agencies “to finally put an end to the on-going rebellion in Mindanao and continue to prevent the same from escalating in other parts of the country”.

He cited the communist New People’s Army, Islamic terror groups such as Abu Sayyaf, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, Daulah Islamiyah as well as other organisations that “seek to promote global rebellion”.

The president first declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23, 2017, after the Islamic State-affiliated Maute terror group attacked Marawi City. He later asked Congress for its extension until December of the same year.

Then, the president requested a further extension until the end of this year despite the government’s declaration that the siege of Marawi had been successfully lifted.

Article VII Section 18 of the Constitution states that if there is “invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it”, the president may suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or place the Philippines, or any part of it, under martial law for not more than 60 days.

However, Congress, voting jointly, by a majority of all its members, may extend it at the president’s request.

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