Congress grants 1-year martial law extension in Mindanao

Has Duterte just threatened to impose martial law throughout Philippines?

Duterte formally requested the Congress on Monday to extend martial law in the entire Mindanao until December 31, 2018 in order to "quell completely" the threat of terrorism in southern Philippines.

Congress has today (Wednesday, December 13) voted overwhelmingly to extend martial law in Mindanao throughout next year.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque welcomed the approval by Congress and urged the public to support the administration in its efforts to fight all armed groups that threaten the country's peace and stability.

Under the Constitution, any extension of martial law must be passed by a simple majority of the two chambers, or at least 158 members. "The rebellion has not stopped, it just moved to another place, "Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told the joint session".

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"There might not be fighting in Marawi anymore, but there are still clashes nearly every day in other parts of Mindanao", Mr. Lorenzana said.

"They are actively recruiting some of the Muslim youth in the area,"he added, stressing that efforts must be taken to prevent the militants from regrouping and planning more attacks in other parts ofMindanao".

Mr Duterte declared Marawi "liberated" in October after a five-month US-backed bombing campaign that claimed more than 1,100 lives and left large areas of the city in ruins.

"It is clear that this is a tool of repression leading to a dictatorship", congresswoman Emmi De Jesus said, explaining her vote. "This regime is waging a bloody war it can not win", she added.

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Kabataan party-list Representative Sarah Elago presented to lawmakers the reports of human rights violations cases after Mindanao was placed under Martial law.

Duterte appealed for the extension on Monday in a letter to legislators, saying it was necessary to contain an ongoing rebellion by supporters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group (ISIL, also known as ISIS) and "the communist terrorists (CTs) and their coddlers, supporters, and financiers". "And if Congress fails, and I'm not hurrying them up, I'm not thinking of anything else, there will be trouble", he said. "I don't want to...but you already know that if nothing happens to the peace talks, you (reporters) would be there in Mindanao covering a bad situation in our country", the President said in remarks during a Christmas party with Malacañang reporters Tuesday night. It is not a silver bullet or a quick fix for all of our social ills.

Government has been seeking the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, the enabling measure of a peace compact signed by the Philippine government and the MILF in 2014.

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