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Solons extend martial law for 150 more days

By: Ben R. Rosario

Congress voted unanimously yesterday to extend martial law and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao for another 150 days as requested by President Duterte.

The Senate voted 16 for and four against in favor of the motion for the five-month extension of military rule that was presented by Deputy Majority Leader Gregorio Honasan.

The House of Representatives vote on a similar motion of Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas was 245 affirmative and 14 negative.

While the two chambers voted separately on the motions, the rules approved specifically indicated that the votes and the registered numbers were totaled to determine the majority’s consensus.

Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez presided over the special joint session called by Duterte to pave the way for action on his appeal for martial law extension.

“The result of the joint voting of the joint session showed that 261 voted in the affirmative and 18 negative.

Pursuant to the Constitution and the rules of the joint session, the motion to extend the proclamation of martial law and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus is hereby approved,” declared Alvarez after the House numbers were counted.

Upon computation, the motion to allow existence of martial law in the areas mentioned will be extended until December 31, 2017 and started at 10 last night which ended the 60-day martial law declaration under Presidential Proclamation 216.

Oppositors claimed that the lopsided vote indicated Duterte’s strong political influence in Congress.

Duterte’s appeal for extension gained strong support although National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana confirmed that only four out of the 96 Marawi City barangays remain occupied by Islamic State-influenced Maute terrorists.

Prior to the voting, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon sought to amend Honasan’s motion by reducing the period to just 60 days.

Drilon argued that there is no factual basis to support an extension. He added that granting the five-month period will prevent Congress from checking on the conditions of martial law implementation and determine whether or not the conditions in Marawi and Mindanao still require military action.

Joining Drilon in thumbing down the motion were Aquino administration allies and Senators Francis Pangilinan, Bam Aquino, and Risa Hontiveros.

Senators Antonio Trillanes III and Nancy Binay were no shows while Sen. Leila de Lima remains in detention.

Allowed to air their objections, Reps. Antonio Tinio (ACT Teachers partylist) and Edcel C. Lagman (LP, Albay) pointed out that government and military officials presented as resource persons on Duterte’s requests were unable to give convincing proofs that martial law is needed in Mindanao.