House expects to get on Monday Duterte’s request to extend martial law
President Rodrigo Duterte will ask Congress to extend martial law in Mindanao for a year before both houses adjourn for their Christmas recess on Friday.
House Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas said Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea informed him that Mr. Duterte had already signed the request and the letter is expected to be delivered on Monday.
Medialdea confirmed to reporters the signing of the request which seeks an extension of martial law in Mindanao for an entire year after the original extension expires on Dec. 31.
Both the House of Representatives and the Senate, which originally scheduled their last day of session for Dec. 13, will only have until Dec 15. to jointly vote on the extension.
“I, of course, relayed it first to the Speaker who said we will discuss it tomorrow. We will have to discuss it with our Senate counterparts,” Fariñas said.
The House leader said the process for the reextension will be the same as when Congress approved the first extension last July 22.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said on Friday that he expected the Palace to seek an extension and would immediately take up the matter with other senators when he receives the request.
Mr. Duterte sought the martial law extension after the military said it needed to sustain the military’s “momentum” against terror groups that have started regrouping after their defeat in Marawi City.
“Not [extending martial law] will allow them to regroup again and, as you know, there have been reports that they are recruiting already in the Lanao area,” said Department of National Defense (DND) spokesperson Arsenio Andolong.
“So I think this will help curb their activities on the ground,” Andolong said, noting there is a “credible threat” that the military needs to address in Mindanao.
Andolong did not elaborate on the “credible threat,” but Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said the military is monitoring the Daulah Islamiyah fi Ranao (Islamic State in Lanao) group and their foreign allies.
Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar also said the Daulah Islamiyah fi Ranao group, which is connected to the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups, had been planning to attack another city in the country.
Speaking in a radio interview on Sunday morning, Andanar also cited unclarified intelligence reports about terror groups that are supposedly stepping up their recruitment activities.
In justifying the extension of martial law, Andolong said it would also help in the rebuilding and rehabilitation of Marawi City and other war-torn areas.
“How do we continue the rebuilding if we cannot secure the area? Our engineers might be ambushed,” Andolong said, citing the usual security threats in conflict areas.
Aside from the Daulah Islamiyah fi Ranao, Padilla said there could also be attacks by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Maguindanao, Lanao and Cotabato, and the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.
In addition to the jihadists, Padilla said the military also needed to guard against attacks by communist rebels who have, in the past, attacked construction activities in Mindanao.
65% increase in attacks
Padilla said there had been a 65-percent increase in attacks perpetrated by communist rebels in Eastern and Western Mindanao from January to November this year.
The martial law proclamation over Mindanao is set to expire on Dec. 31, unless extended by Congress. —With reports from Nikko Dizon
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