Martial law extended in Philippines Mindanao

Marsha Scott
July 24, 2017

The collective vote was not at all close: 261-18 (four Senators and 14 representatives opposed), according to the Philippine News Agency.

The Cabinet members told Congress that one of the reasons they were pushing for the extension of martial law was to "finish this ISIS-inspired group".

Militants linked to so-called Islamic State have been occupying parts of Marawi, a city in the south, since May.

Anti-martial law protesters on Saturday briefly disrupted the special joint session of Congress at Batasang Pambansa, waving banners that read "No to martial law" and chanting calls against the proposed extension of military rule in Mindanao.

Despite the progress and significant strides against the extremists in Marawi City, Duterte claimed "the rebellion persists and a lot more remains to be done to completely quell the same and bring back the public order and safety in Mindanao".

Although opposition legislators questioned government officials for hours on the legality of the move, the vote was largely a foregone conclusion as Duterte enjoys majorities in both houses of Congress.

"While Pimentel spoke of "developing the whole of Mindanao", Presidential Spokesperson Ernie Abella talked of transforming Mindanao into a land of fulfillment" as he welcomed the congressional vote.

"The President is merely saying that at the onset of the rebellion in Marawi, situation has become critical, with the potential spillover of lawlessness and violent extremism to the rest of Mindanao, that necessitates the issuance of Proclamation 216", Abella said.

On the economic front, maybe it won't be too much to expect the President to say something about his administration's ambitious infrastructure program that hopefully would ensure the continuity of long-gestating projects that had just gotten off the ground (a.k.a. the Bus Rapid Transit project of Cebu City).

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Now that the debate is over, he urged the nation "to get on with the job of nation-building and contribute to the attainment of the full promise of Mindanao".

Medialdea, however, said the recovery of drugs from the Maute group in Marawi City shows the rebels' links to terror groups. "We should not be remiss in that duty", Drilon said.

Duterte, in his request for an extension, cited that not only was there a threat of rebellion from the Maute group but from the Abu Sayyaf, Ansarul Khilafah Philippines and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), as well.

The militants are reportedly holding about 300 civilian hostages in Marawi.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman and Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano are part of a small group of lawmakers who plan to file a petition before the Supreme Court questioning the need to extend martial law in Mindanao.

Wearing an arm sling bandage, a soldier injured in Marawi also came to Congress to tell about his ordeal and the dangers facing government security forces in retaking Marawi.

However, Duterte's political foes disagreed.

Before the vote, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, who voted against the motion, proposed limiting the extension to 60 days instead of five months.

Under the Constitution, the Congress has the sole power to extend martial law by voting jointly.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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