Top Filipino re­quests mar­tial law go longer

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - INTERNATIONAL - TERESA CEROJANO

MANILA, Philip­pines — Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte has asked Congress to ex­tend mar­tial law in the south­ern third of the coun­try un­til the end of the year be­cause the re­bel­lion there will not be com­pletely quelled by Satur­day, the end of his 60day mar­tial law procla­ma­tion, his spokesman said Tues­day.

Duterte de­clared mar­tial law May 23 af­ter a bloody takeover of the south­ern city of Marawi by Is­lamic Statealigned mil­i­tants, the most se­ri­ous se­cu­rity cri­sis he has faced since as­sum­ing power in June 2016.

In a let­ter to the Se­nate and the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives read by his spokesman Ernesto Abella, Duterte said that af­ter con­sult­ing se­cu­rity of­fi­cials, he has con­cluded that the re­bel­lion in the south will not be quelled com­pletely by Satur­day.

He asked Congress to ex­tend mar­tial law un­til Dec. 31.

Un­der the con­sti­tu­tion, in case of in­va­sion or re­bel­lion, when pub­lic safety re­quires it, the pres­i­dent can de­clare mar­tial law for no more than 60 days. He can ask Congress to ex­tend such a procla­ma­tion to a pe­riod of time to be de­ter­mined by the law­mak­ers.

More than 550 peo­ple, in­clud­ing 413 mil­i­tants, have been killed in nearly two months of fight­ing in Marawi, a bas­tion of Is­lamic faith in the south.

U. S. Am­bas­sador Sung Kim said the United States will be send­ing two sur­veil­lance air­craft to help Philip­pine forces bat­tling the mil­i­tants in Marawi. The two Cessna 208 air­craft fit­ted with in­tel­li­gence, sur­veil­lance and re­con­nais­sance equip­ment “will be turned over to the Philip­pines in a cou­ple of weeks,” he told ABS- CBN News Chan­nel.

“We’re deeply con­cerned about the se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion in Marawi,” Kim said. The U.S. has been pro­vid­ing mu­ni­tions, in­tel­li­gence and sur­veil­lance equip­ment and spe­cial op­er­a­tions troops to ad­vise the Philip­pine mil­i­tary in the south. It will also as­sist in re­build­ing Marawi, he added.

Duterte met with law­mak­ers late Mon­day. He called for a spe­cial ses­sion of Congress, which is on break, for Satur­day to tackle the pro­posed ex­ten­sion of mar­tial law.

Congress opens its new reg­u­lar ses­sion Mon­day, when Duterte de­liv­ers his State of the Na­tion ad­dress.

Op­po­si­tion law­mak­ers said they will op­pose the ex­ten­sion and ques­tion its ba­sis.

“It is to­tally not jus­ti­fied” and “just a whim­si­cal mis­use of power,” said Sen. An­to­nio Tril­lanes IV, adding that the mil­i­tary says the num­ber of mil­i­tants was down to 60.

“I have al­ready fore­warned the pub­lic of Duterte’s au­thor­i­tar­ian ten­den­cies and this is fur­ther proof of it,” he added.

Rep. Tom Vil­larin of the left­ist po­lit­i­cal party Ak­bayan said it was “a whim­si­cal pro­posal that has no sub­stan­tive grounds other than the pres­i­dent’s wishes.”

AP/AARON FAVILA

Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte speaks at a cer­e­mony with the Philip­pines mil­i­tary Tues­day at the pres­i­den­tial palace in Manila, the same day he asked Congress to ex­tend mar­tial law in the coun­try’s south.

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