DAVAO City — From a period of 60 days, President Rodrigo Duterte now wants martial law over Mindanao’s 27 provinces and 33 cities extended until Dec. 31 — or a total of 222 days — claiming that upon a “thorough, personal assessment” of the current situation in Marawi City and other parts of Mindanao, he has “come to the conclusion that the rebellion in Mindanao will not be quelled completely” by July 22, the last day of the 60-day period provided under the Constitution.
Duterte also sought extension of the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus until Dec. 31 “or for such a period of time as the Congress may determine” for the reasons he cited and “because public safety requires it.”
At the press briefing in Malacañang on Tuesday morning, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said Duterte’s initiative to extend martial law is contained in a letter to Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Jr.
Duterte hosted dinner for Congress leaders on July 17, where he called for a special joint session of Congress on Saturday, July 22, to deliberate on his proposed extension.
The President noted that aside from his “thorough personal assessment,” he took into account the reports and recommendations of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, martial law administrator; General Eduardo Año, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), martial law implementor; and Philippine National Police (PNP) Director-General Ronald dela Rosa.
Duterte, then in Moscow, issued Proclamation 216 effective 10 pm on May 23, declaring martial law and suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, hours after clashes erupted between government forces and the Maute Group.
60 days to year-end
That he can seek an extension of martial law is allowed by Article VII, Section 18 of the 1987 Constitution. The Constitution, however, is silent on the length of the extension.
But it specifies the period when martial law may be declared, “for a period not exceeding 60 days.”
The Constitution also provides that “upon the initiative of the President, the Congress may, in the same manner, extend such proclamation or suspension for a period to be determined by the Congress, if the invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it.”
Senate Majority Leader Tito Sotto was quoted by various media entities in Manila as saying that the President during the dinner in Malacanang proposed a 60-day extension.
But Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, told reporters in Manila that the President did not categorically say 60 days. Pimentel said he asked the President if his preferred period of extension was 60 days and that he thought he saw the President nod.
But Pimentel is confident that both Houses of Congress will approve the extension. “Confident ako na the request for extension of Martial Law will be approved. That if it will still be over entire Mindanao, that will be approved,” but as to the period of extension, “ let us wait for the (President’s) letter.”
“Basahin po natin yung letter request. Hopefully it will have some details justifying the period being requested,” said Pimentel.
Lawyer Antonio La Viña of Cagayan de Oro City, former Dean of the Ateneo School of Government and a Constitutional Law professor, said he does not understand why the extension is up to December and why it is for all of Mindanao again.
“There is no provision in the Constitution limiting the period of extension so I think 60 days should be the guidance. I hope I am wrong but my sense is that this is a dress rehearsal for what may be nationwide martial law and for an indefinite period,” La Viña said. (mindanews)