CONGRESS will hold a joint session on Wednesday, December 12, on President Rodrigo Duterte's request for a third extension of martial law in Mindanao.
On Tuesday, or a day before the joint session, military and police officials will brief the House of Representatives on the current peace and order situation in Mindanao, the Office of House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo announced on Monday, December 10.
The Office of the Speaker also informed the media that the House has already received a copy of the letter request of the President for the extension of martial rule and suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao for another year, or until December 2019.
In his letter to the Congress, the President said certain groups such as the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), Daulah Islamiyah (DI) and other terrorist groups continue to defy the government by perpetrating hostile activities.
The President said the DI continues to recruit new members while the ASG continues to pursue kidnap-for-ransom activities to finance their operations.
The President also cited as grounds for martial law extension the recent bombing incidents as reported by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) such as the Lamitan City bombing in July 2018 that killed 11 and wounded 10 others; the Isulan, Sultan Kudarat IED (improvised explosive device) explosion last August 8 and September 2 that killed five and wounded 45; and the Barangay Apopong IED explosion that wounded eight.
According to the President, the extension of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus as contained in Proclamation No. 216 will enable the AFP, Philippine National Police (PNP) and all the law enforcement agencies “to put an end to the ongoing rebellion in Mindanao.”
“We cannot afford to give rebels any further breathing room to regroup and strengthen their forces. Public safety indubitably requires such further extension in rder to avoid the further the further loss of lives not only to our soldier and the police, but also to our civilians,” the letter read.
Duterte first declared martial law a few hours after hostilities erupted in Marawi City on May 23, 2017. It has been extended twice by the 17th Congress upon the President’s request and was scheduled to be lifted by end-December 2018. (SunStar Philippines)