Congress grants 1-year martial law extension in Mindanao

By Filane Mikee Cervantes

December 13, 2017, 2:09 pm

MANILA -- The Philippine Congress on Wednesday overwhelmingly voted to extend martial law in Mindanao for the entire 2018.

The Senate and House of Representatives, convening in a joint session, granted President Rodrigo Duterte's request for the extension of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of writ of habeas corpus for a period of one year from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2018.

A total of 240 members of Congress voted to approve the resolution of both houses calling for martial law extension in Mindanao, while only 27 voted against it. There was no abstention.

A total of 14 senators voted in favor of the motion and four were against it, while 226 House members approved the motion and 23 rejected it.

Under the Constitution, the Congress, voting jointly, has the sole power to extend martial law. A majority vote of the two chambers -- or at least 158 members -- is needed to pass the motion.

To recall, President Duterte placed the entire Mindanao under martial law last May 23 after terrorists inspired by the Islamic State (IS) laid siege to Marawi City.

Congress, in a special joint session in July, granted the extension of martial law until Dec. 31 this year at the President's request.

In his letter dated Dec. 8, Duterte asked Congress to further extend the declaration of martial law in the whole of Mindanao for 2018 to totally eradicate terror threats posed by remnants of IS-linked terrorists and by communist rebels in the region.

He said extending martial law for another year would help state security forces crush the rebellion in Mindanao and ensure public safety. (PNA)