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AFP, PNP may sway President to extending martial law in Mindanao – Panelo

President Rodrigo Duterte may be swayed by the recommendation of the military and the police to extend the imposition of martial law in Mindanao beyond Dec. 31, Malacañang said on Monday.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the President would “have to evaluate whatever recommendations” were given by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police.

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“Given the support [for] martial law in Mindanao, even by a Catholic bishop and the citizens there, the President may be persuaded to go on to approve the recommendation,” Panelo said.

President’s prerogative

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“But of course, again, that is the prerogative of the President,” he added.

The Palace official made the remarks after AFP chief Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. said the military was pushing for the extension of martial law in Mindanao for at least another year.

PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde said the police was also recommending the extension of military rule in the South beyond Dec. 31.

On May 23, 2017, the President declared martial law in Mindanao following the attack by the Maute terrorist group on Marawi City that lasted for five months.

Later that year, Congress approved the one-year extension of martial law in the region. It will expire at the end of 2018.

Panelo said the President would always consider the “safety of the people there” in evaluating the recommendations of the AFP and the PNP.

Congress to decide

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“If the threat remains and there is still an ongoing rebellion, then, constitutionally, the basis would be valid for the continuation of martial law,” he said.

Malacañang, Panelo said, would leave to Congress whether to approve the extension of martial law in Mindanao should the President decide to heed the recommendation of the military and police.

But opposition lawmakers in the House of Representatives on Monday lambasted Galvez for recommending the extension of martial law.

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said he was no longer surprised with Galvez’s decision as he knew that the military wanted martial law “ad infinitum.”

“Truth to tell, this move to further extend martial rule can even be used to influence the elections in Mindanao and en sure the victory of administration bets,” he said.

Unconstitutional

Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano warned that prolonging military rule was not only unconstitutional, but would also adversely affect the country’s economy.

ACT Teachers Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro said extending martial law would only result in “more human rights violations and harassment by the military, paramilitary and the police.”

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TAGS: AFP, Carlito Galvez Jr., Marawi siege, Mindanao martial law, Oscar Albayalde, PNP‎, Rodrigo Duterte, Salvador Panelo
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