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Senate overwhelmingly votes in favor of martial law extension

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Senate overwhelmingly votes in favor of martial law extension

/ 03:50 PM July 22, 2017

Lawmakers gather for a special joint session on the possible extension of martial law in Mindanao on Saturday, July 22, 2017. Martial law was declared by President Rodrigo Duterte last May 23, for 60 days following the siege by Muslim militants of Marawi city which is now on its second month. AP

(Updated, 6:19 p.m., July 22, 2017) An overwhelming number of senators have voted in favor of President Rodrigo Duterte’s recommendation to extend martial law in Mindanao until the end of the year.

“On the part of the Senate, 16 senators voted in the affirmative, four in the negative,” Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel II said at the joint session of the Congress on Saturday.

Twenty senators were present at the voting. Only Senators Antonio Trillanes IV, Nancy Binay and Leila de Lima, who is currently detained, were unable to join the session.

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Explaining his vote approving Duterte’s recommendation, Senator Miguel Zubiri said: “As a Mindanaoan, I support the President’s fight against terrorists who know no creed, no religion, no law.

Citing arrests of Maute terrorists in the provinces of Davao, Zamboanga and Cagayan de Oro, Zubiri said this justifies martial law in the region because of the porous nature of the boundaries of Mindanao provinces.

Martial law is also needed to prevent terrorists from attacking buildings and its contractors while rehabilitating conflict-torn cities, said Zubiri.

“We need to protect all the citizens from the spread of this disease of terrorism. We, from Mindanao, vote for yes, for our ultimate dream of long-lasting peace,” Zubiri said.

Meanwhile, Senator Richard Gordon, although voting in the affirmative, admitted that no citizen wants martial law and a strong leadership that can affect people’s rights.

But he pointed out that military rule was needed to contain the terrorists in Mindanao.

“We don’t want (terrorism) to spread. It’s important to realize that we can always withdraw support for martial law. We can always ask the President to justify. Even he can stop martial law. But we don’t want to be a Syria or Iraq so I vote yes,” Gordon said in his speech.

Senator Grace Poe also voted yes but “with reservation.”

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“Mas gusto ko sana na mas maikli ang martial law, pero hindi naman natin pwede ding talikuran yung pagsuporta sa mga sundalo doon kung paano nila masusugpo ang rebelyon. So, binigyan natin sila ngayon ng pagkakataon pa kasi marami pa nga daw teroristang nagkalat sa lugar na iyon,” she said in an ambush interview.

(I really wanted martial law to be brief, but we cannot turn our backs in supporting our soldiers fighting to quell rebellion. So, we gave them a chance because there are still quite a number of terrorists in the area)

For his part, Senator Sonny Angara, in voting for martial law extension, hopes that this decision would boost the morale of the armed forces.

“Sana mabigyan ng sigla ‘yung sandatahang lakas dahil pinagtanggol nila ang karapatan na pinaglaban ng ating mga ninuno (I hope we can energize the armed forces because they are fighting for the rights of our forefathers),” Angara said in a brief speech.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian was also convinced of the President’s assessment that there is a necessity to continue the implementation of martial law until December 31 to “achieve the paramount object of restoring peace under civilian authority.”

“Necessity creates the conditions for martial law and at the same time limits its scope. With the conditions existing in Marawi City, it is clear that public safety demands that the people of Mindanao be secured and protected from the terror and chaos of this rebellion through whichever means necessary. We must give the President ample latitude to exercise his discretion in choosing the proper medicine to cure the cancer of terrorism, even if it may be the extraordinary remedies of martial law and suspension of the privilege of the writ,” Gatchalian said. JPV

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TAGS: Marawi City, martial law extension, Mindanao, Senate of the Philippines
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