Duterte asks Congress for Mindanao martial law extension

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 7) — President Rodrigo Duterte has asked Congress to extend martial law in Mindanao, heeding the recommendation of the military and the police, Malacañang said.

This was first confirmed to CNN Philippines by Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, citing Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.

In a statement, Panelo said Duterte has requested the Congress to approve the extension for one more year starting January 2019.

"The Palace confirms that the President has requested Congress to approve the further extension of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in the whole of Mindanao for another year starting next month," the spokesman said in a statement.

Panelo said the further extension will be beneficial in promoting overall security, peace, and order in the area.

"A halt may only frustrate the progress we are witnessing in Mindanao and may even strengthen the rebellion and propel it to other parts of the country," he added.

The letter requesting for an extension would be sent out on Monday, Senate Majority Leader Migz Zubiri told CNN Philippines. This is the same day when the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) would brief senators, according to Senate President Tito Sotto.

Zubiri said senators would also invite economic managers to the security briefing by the AFP as he wants to know how martial law has affected Mindanao's economy.

Sotto said Duterte is eyeing to call on Congress to convene in a joint session on Wednesday, December 12, to decide whether or not lawmakers will grant his request for an extension of martial law in the southern Philippines for the third time.

House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has said that she would recommend to the lower chamber to grant the request for a third extension of martial law in southern Philippines. The majority leaders of both houses have also said they would back the move.

For his part, Senator Dick Gordon said martial law is being implemented well in Mindanao and that he has yet to receive reports of abuse. At least three cases have been filed before the Commission on Human rights alleging abuse by the military during the implementation of martial law.

The AFP, the Philippine National Police and the Defense department have all recommended for martial law in Mindanao to be extended for another year to completely eradicate terrorist activity in the region and because of strong clamor from residents and local government officials for its extension.

Opposition lawmakers have questioned this, saying there is no more reason for martial law to be extended for another year.

Article VII, Section 18 of the 1987 Constitution states that the President may declare martial law "in case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it."

Duterte first placed Mindanao under martial law after the Marawi siege broke out in May 2017. Two months later, Congress agreed to extend martial law to until December 31, 2017. Weeks before that extension lapsed, the legislature again granted another extension to until the end of 2018.

"Dapat talaga may grand plan ang military matapos ang problema na 'yan. 'Yan ba ang bagong normal? 'Di pwede bagong normal 'yan. Magtatanong ako diyan, 'Kailan ba matatapos problema na 'yan at ano ang problema sa social side para matulungan ang military na 'di na humaba pa 'yan," Gordon said.

[Translation: The military should have a grand plan to end that problem. Is that the new normal? That cannot be the new normal. I will ask, 'When would this problem end and what is the problem on the social side so we can help the military and this won't lengthen further.]

Both houses would convene in a joint session after Duterte sends letters to their respective leaders requesting for an extension of martial law. There, they would vote jointly to decide whether to grant or reject this bid.

The lower house, dominated by Duterte's allies, outnumber the 23-member Senate and has consistently voted in favor of the President's policies.

This is a developing story. Refresh this page for updates.

CNN Philippines Correspondent Joyce Ilas contributed to this report.