Negros solons back Mindanao martial law extension

ALMOST all lawmakers from Negros Island Region were in favor of extending the martial law in Mindanao.

During the special joint session convened by the Senate and the House of Representatives on Saturday, 10 of the 12 Negrense congressmen approved the extension of military rule until December 31, 2017 while only one was against it.

Those who voted “Yes” from Negros Occidental were Representatives Greg Gasataya (Lone District, Bacolod City), Melecio Yap Jr. (First District), Leo Rafael Cueva (Second District), Alfredo Benitez (Third District), Alejandro Mirasol (Fifth District) and Mercedes Alvarez (Sixth District) while those from Negros Oriental were Jocelyn Limkaichong (First District), Manuel Sagarbarria (Second District) and Arnolfo Teves Jr. (Third District).

Also in favor was Representative Stephen Paduano (Abang Lingkod party-list) while Magdalo party-list Representative Gary Alejano voted against it.

Negros Occidental Fourth District Representative Juliet Ferrer said she wasn’t able to attend the special joint session as she was out of the country.

Benitez and Yap said they voted for the five-month extension because they believe it’s needed in Mindanao to ensure peace.

Paduano said they were appraised by the situation in Mindanao and the basis warrants the extension.

“Hearing the sentiments of Mindanaoan congressmen, I voted yes. For me, the duration or how long it would be is not an issue because 60 or 150 days is not a deadline to quell terrorism and rebellion in Mindanao,” he said.

Gasataya said he voted in favor of the extension of martial law in Mindanao because he finds it necessary in resolving the crisis in Marawi City.

“This is based on the assessment of the President through the martial law implementers and the position of the representatives from Mindanao,” Gasataya said.

On May 23, President Rodrigo Duterte issued Proclamation 216, declaring martial law in Mindanao after the Maute extremist group engaged in a firefight with government forces tasked to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon.

The security officials said that the Maute rebels and Hapilon have allegedly pledged allegiance to Islamic State.

Duterte sought the Congress' approval to martial law extension as the initial 60-day declaration expired at 10 p.m. on Saturday, July 22.

During the special joint session, 261 lawmakers approved the extension of martial law while only 14 voted against the proposal. Sixteen senators voted in favor of the 150-day extension, while four voted against.

On the other hand, around 245 House members approved the extension while 14 rejected it. (With reports from TDE)
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