Congress sets special meeting on martial law

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PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte will call Congress to a special session on Saturday, July 22, to consider the extension of martial law in Mindanao, a notice sent by Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas to all members of the House of Representatives said Monday.

Earlier, lawmakers said they were open to a recommendation by Philippine National Police Director-General Ronald dela Rosa that the President extend martial law in Mindanao.

Reps. Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar, Robert Ace Barbers of Surigao del Sur and Harry Roque of Kabayan party-list said the military and the police know the situation in Marawi, which was overrun by Islamic State-inspired terrorists on May 23.

“I think Congress should support it until the problem is solved in Marawi. The government should not waver on this issue,” Evardone said.

Barbers, a Mindanaoan, said an extension of martial law would be good for the people of Mindanao.

“Yes I will support it in the event the President declares it,” Barbers said of a possible extension.

But Roque, a House deputy minority leader, said he would support an extension based on a security briefing the executive department would give the lawmakers.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, one of the petitioners against martial law in Mindanao, on Monday reiterated that he and other opposition lawmakers will oppose any extension of military rule by President Rodrigo Duterte.

NO TO EXTENSION.  Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, one of the petitioners against martial law in Mindanao, on Monday reiterates he and other opposition lawmakers will oppose any extension of the declaration of martial law, as well as a new martial law declaration by President Rodrigo Duterte—at the Samahang Plaridel Kapihan sa Manila Hotel. Ey Acasio

Lagman, during the Samahang Plaridel, Kapihan  sa Manila Hotel, said any extension or new declaration of martial law by Duterte can be questioned as it will violate the Constitution.

“If there is an extension, it can be questioned. If there is a new declaration, it can be questioned. That is in the Constitution. The Supreme Court has the exclusive jurisdiction to check on the sufficiency, the factual basis of the declaration of martial law or its extension. It’s in the Constitution,” said Lagman. 

The Supreme Court had ruled against Lagman and other petitioners who had questioned Duterte’s martial law declaration.

Last week, ranking defense and law enforcement officials reached a consensus on the need to extend martial law at a meeting in Camp Aguinaldo. 

The recommendation was forwarded to Armed Forces chief Gen. Eduardo Año and subsequently to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who sent it on to the President.

President Duterte placed the entire Mindanao region under martial law on May 23 in an apparent attempt to contain the armed conflict in Marawi City perpetrated by Islamic State-inspired Maute group terrorists.

A source said there was no plan to expand the coverage of martial law beyond Mindanao. With Sandy Araneta

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