MANILA — House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Tuesday said Congress would most likely grant President Rodrigo Duterte’s request for an extension of martial law in Mindanao to address the threats of terrorism there.
In a radio interview, Alvarez pointed out that majority of Filipinos favored Duterte’s declaration of martial law to deter lawlessness and restore peace and order in the southern region.
“Sa tingin ko ano, tuluy-tuloy lang ito. Kasi nakita naman natin ano, in all surveys, talagang pabor yung taong bayan dun sa declaration ng martial law sa Mindanao. Ibig sabihin, na-appreciate nila kung gaano kabigat yung problema,” Alvarez said.
President Duterte called on Congress to hold a joint special session on Saturday to deliberate and consider his request for martial law extension.
Under the Constitution, the effectivity of the declaration can only last for 60 days and its extension requires the concurrence of Congress. The 60-day martial rule is set to expire on July 22.
He said Congress must hold a joint session if the President would request an extension of martial law to decide if they would support such request and determine the period of the extension.
Alvarez argued that even if the hostilities in Marawi had stopped, it does not mean the threat of the Maute terror group is over as there is a possibility of retaliation.
“Kahit matapos yung bakbakan diyan sa Marawi ay hindi nangangahulugan na tapos na yung problema, dahil po tiyak ito ay may resbak din. Iyan ang pinangangambahan natin and nakita ko nga talagang nangangamba, hindi lang sa Mindanao kundi ang buong sambayanan,” he said.
Apart from the martial law extension, Congress should also conduct an assessment of the Marawi crisis and look into the possible lapses of the intelligence community in assessing the Maute threat allegedly linked to the Islamic State (IS), Alvarez noted.
Malacañang announced on Tuesday that President Duterte has asked Congress to extend the period of Martial Law in Mindanao until the end of the year.
At a Palace briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said that in the letter sent by the President to the leaders of Congress Monday evening, the extension was called for as the “existing rebellion in Mindanao will not be quelled completely by the July 22,” the expiration of the 60-day period of the initial martial law proclamation.
President Duterte declared martial law and suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in the whole of Mindanao last May 23 following an attack by the Islamic State-inspired Maute group in Marawi City.
According to the latest update provided by Malacañang on the Marawi siege, 413 militants have been killed while 511 high-powered firearms have been recovered from the terror group.
In the meantime, 98 government forces have died in fighting while 45 civilians have so far been confirmed to have died in the hands of the terrorists. (PNA)