Senators still skeptical about martial law until end of 2017
Senators are supportive of the extension of martial law in Mindanao, but despite receiving a briefing from security officials, some of them remain skeptical about the five-month period of extension recommended by President Rodrigo Duterte.
“I am not yet convinced,” Sen. Franklin Drilon told reporters on Wednesday. “But as to the need for extension, yes, I am inclined to support that. But insofar as the length and the coverage, let’s debate on that.”
Sen. Joel Villanueva too was not convinced that extending military rule in Mindanao until Dec. 31, 2017 was necessary.
“Sa end of the year, I have to say that I’m not convinced,” he told reporters after security officials had briefed senators on the situation in strife-torn Marawi City. “Pero doon sa extension mukhang kailangan talaga.”
The briefing on Wednesday was conducted by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, martial law administrator; Secretary Hermogenes Esperon Jr., national security adviser, and Gen. Eduardo Año, chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
In an ambush interview after the closed-door meeting at the Senate Lounge, Lorenzana refused to divulge who recommended extending martial law up to five months.
“Hindi ko sasagutin ’yan,” he said. “Hindi naman na importante kung siya ang nagrecommend o ako. Si Presidente kasi meron siyang decision.”
What Lorenzana only confirmed was that Duterte “got hold of his information from the defense, from the police, and from the people in Mindanao.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Risa Hontiveros of the minority bloc said she would still have a lot of questions to raise on Saturday, when both chambers of Congress convene in a joint session to vote on martial law extension.
“For one, hindi ko pa masabing sumusuporta ako ng extension of whatever length,” she said.
“And about the extension, marami pa akong itatanong sa joint session,” she added.
But for Sen. Grace Poe, regardless of the length of the extension would be, she said she would support whatever means would quell terrorism in the region.
“Basta ako, susuportahan ko kung anong makakasugpo sa problema ng rebelyon doon,” Poe said. “Kung ito ay kinakailangang i-extend, pero kailangan mahingi pa sa kanila ang detalye kung paano nila gagawin yun, bakit nila kinakailangan ng ganon katagal.” /atm
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