Senator Koko Pimentel III said he is keeping an open mind on the possible extension of martial law in Mindanao, following announcements from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) that they will recommend to President Rodrigo Duterte another extension of military rule in the region for at least a year.
In an interview, Pimentel said he is keeping an open mind since the Senate will still have to be briefed on the justification once the President makes the formal request for another extension of martial law.
“I will keep an open mind. Dapat kung meron man request, there should be briefing and bakit justified pa even after one year and seven months (If there will ever be request, there should be a briefing and why martial law is still justified even after one year and seven months),” the former Senate President said.
“I will keep an open mind. If there will ever be request, there should be a briefing and why martial law is still justified even after one year and seven months.”
Martial law in Mindanao was declared on May 23, 2017, following attacks launched by the Maute Group in Marawi City.
Since then, Congress has twice granted the Chief Executive’s request for an extension of martial law in the region, with the last extension expiring on Dec. 31, 2018.
The legislator, who hails from Mindanao, said he voted in favor of extension in the past two requests but pointed out that lawmakers were properly briefed in both instances.
The lawmaker said while he does not hear any vehement objections from his fellow Mindanaoans on another martial law extension, he will still base his decision on the comprehensive report that the AFP will present.
“While I do not hear any vehement objections from my fellow Mindanaoans on another martial law extension, I will still base his decision on the comprehensive report that the AFP will present.”
“I will base my decision on the (AFP) report, my approach is constitutional. There must be the basic conditions — invasion, rebellion plus the public safety requires it,” the senator said.
His sentiments were shared by Senate President Vicente Sotto II who said Congress will need to have a briefing if a proposal to extend martial law would be made.
“If the Executive Department is proposing an extension of martial law, we have to have a briefing. We need to decide intelligently,” the Senate leader said in a separate interview.
Sotto added that the Senate is open to conduct special sessions beyond December 15 to tackle the issue of martial law extension if needed.
Congress goes on recess on December 15 for its December break and would resume work on Jan. 14, 2019.
“If necessary. And if the President calls for a special session, then we will have to comply,” Sotto said.
Earlier, outgoing AFP Chief-of-Staff Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. said the military will recommend a year-long extension of martial law in Mindanao “to substantially make a significant dent on terrorism” in the region.
The AFP chief said this is the military’s position as there is a clamor for an extension of martial law, considering that terrorism is still present in Mindanao.
Meanwhile, PNP chief, Director General Oscar Albayalde said the national police is one with the AFP in recommending for an extension of martial law in Mindanao, citing the upcoming plebiscite on the Bangsamoro Organic Law and midterm elections as basis.
Malacañang earlier said it would depend on the recommendations of the AFP and PNP on whether martial law will be extended after its expiration at the end of the year.
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