Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will seek to extend martial law in the southern island of Mindanao. The Filipino leader will, on Monday, formally request a one-year extension, according to Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Philippine lawmaker and House of Representatives majority leader, Rodolfo Farinas.
Cabinet officials said the controversial president will ask Congress to grant the extension of the long-running security measure which is due to expire on Dec. 31. Congress previously voted in July to extend military rule until the end of the year.
Malacañang officials said Duterte had received the recommendations of the Department of National Defense, Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police to extend martial law on Mindanao.
“(The President’s) paramount concern is the security of our people especially the Mindanaoans in the face of threats and the use of available means under the law to fight them,” presidential spokesman, Harry Roque, said in a statement.
Martial law was established by Duterte following the annexation of parts of southern Marawi City by extremists. The region has been under military rule since May 23.
Bangon Marawi Task Force chair Eduardo del Rosario, who is overseeing the rebuilding process in the region, supports the martial-law request stating it will secure the rehabilitation efforts and foil attempts at terrorist recruitment.
But, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman and Akbayan party-list Rep. Tom Villarin were less enthusiastic, both saying there is no basis for Duterte to ask for an extension since the Constitution states it can only be done in “case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it.”
Lagman further explained that there is no “actual invasion or rebellion” in Mindanao at this time, evidenced by the president's earlier liberation declaration.
Duterte, about two months ago, said Marawi City, where more than 1,100 people – mostly militants – were killed and 350,000 displaced, was liberated.
The Marawi takeover was the Philippines’ most threatening security crisis in years.
Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar favors prolonged military rule in Mindanao, citing credible threats from Maoist guerrillas, Islamist militants and separatist groups.
“There were intelligence reports saying they are planning to attack another city,” Andanar disclosed in an interview.
A 23-member Senate and 296-member House of Representatives will vote on a decision when the lawmakers reconvene after a Dec. 16 to Jan. 14, 2018 recess.