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Duterte asks Congress to extend Mindanao martial law

Police officers inspect ID cards from passers-by as they patrol the streets of Iligan city on May 27, 2017, 3 days after the declaration of martial law in Mindanao. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the recommendation of the military and the police to extend martial law in Mindanao, the Palace confirmed Friday.

In a text message, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said Duterte has already asked both chambers of Congress to allow the extension of martial law in the restive region.

“The Senate President and House Speaker would call for a joint session probably on the President’s request for the extension of martial law,” Medialdea said.

Medialdea also clarified that the extension sought, which will be third, will last until the end of 2019 and will only cover Mindanao.

Martial law in Mindanao is set to expire on December 2018 after the extensions granted by Congress.

Duterte first placed Mindanao under martial law in May 2017 after Islamic State-inspired terrorists laid siege on Marawi City that for 5 months.

Opposition lawmakers, leftist leaders and several Marawi stakeholders had questioned the mid-2017 declaration of martial law in Mindanao before the Supreme Court, but the high court upheld the martial rule.

Congress then allowed an extension of martial law up to the end of 2017 and another one up to the end of 2018.

The Commission on Human Rights said it opposes the martial law extension, noting that security forces are fully capable of addressing lawless violence in the country without the need for it.

“The 1987 Constitution is also clear that only invasion and rebellion merit such declaration. As such, there has to be a strong reason should the government move for another extension—based on the sound recommendation of our Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police on the real situation on the ground,” said CHR Spokesperson Jacqueline Dew Guia in a statement.