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Philippine Congress Votes to Extend Mindanao Military Rule

Philippine Congress Votes to Extend Mindanao Military Rule

MANILA, Philippines - (UPDATE - 12:14 p.m.) Congress met in joint session Saturday morning to deliberate and vote on President Rodrigo Duterte's request to extend martial law until the year end, hours before the 60-day effectivity of Proclamation No. 216 was to lapse.

Both the Lower House and Senate approved during the joint special session with only four Senators voting against while 245 members of the House of Representatives gave the resolution a resounding thumbs up. Fourteen, however, believed otherwise.

Senate Minority Floor Leader Franklin Drilon said there is no basis to extend martial law until the end of the year, adding that the basis for martial extension cannot be supported by the situation on the ground.

"This is not the martial law that we had before", Esperon told lawmakers who convened Saturday in a special joint session on the proposal to extend the martial law.

Lorenzana said there is a continued presence of terrorists allied with IS militants, especially in the provinces of Basilan, Sulu, Maguindanao and the Central Mindanao region.

A dozen protesters also interrupted proceedings at Saturday's hearing, chanting "never again to martial law", the news agency reports.

"The rebellion in Marawi continues to persist and we want to stop the spread of the evil ideology of terrorism and free the people of Mindanao from the tyranny of lawlessness and violent extremism", presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a statement.

"We need martial law because we haven't addressed yet the existence of other Daesh-inspired groups", he said.

The chief of staff said early this week that government troops and the terrorists were "barely fighting for an area that was less than 1 square kilometer" in the city, giving a picture of the advances made by the government since it launched the operation to recapture the areas previously held or occupied by the terrorists.

U.S. and China emerge from trade talks without agreement — BBCI
Wilbur Ross, the US commerce secretary, acknowledged that dialogue between both countries has become "more challenging". His administration is also weighing steps to cut steel imports, blaming China's overcapacity for creating global gluts.

With the debate over the extension done with, Abella urged the public to help in nation-building and contribute to the attainment of the "full promise of Mindanao".

President Rodrigo Duterte said the extension was necessary to crush the insurgency, but his critics say it is part of a wider power grab.

Parliamentarians of the opposition, in particular question on the necessity of martial law on the entire region of Mindanao, populated by two million inhabitants, while the fighting relate only to the city of Marawi.

"There is much work to be done in the recovery, reconstruction and rehabilitation of Marawi".

"It was rigged from the start", said Cristina Palabay, secretary-general of the human rights group Karapatan, referring to the approval of the extended martial rule, and "had only one intended outcome - to rubberstamp the Congress' imprimatur on the legality of the declaration's extension".

Armed Forces chief of staff Eduardo Año, meanwhile, admitted it was the military who specifically requested the extension of martial law in Mindanao until December 31.

They said only about 60 gunmen were left in a 49-hectare area of Marawi, but almost 1,000 pro-IS militants were active elsewhere in the south, holding 23 hostages.

The original martial law proclamation was made on May 23, after government troops who were supposed to arrest global terrorist Isnilon Hapilon encountered the Maute terror group in Marawi City.


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