Duterte seeks further extension of martial law for 1 year to "quell completely" ongoing rebellion in Mindanao, to include Reds as target
President Rodrigo Duterte has asked Congress to extend the declaration of martial law and suspension of the writ of habeas corpus for another year or until Dec. 31, 2018 to "quell completely and put an end to an ongoing rebellion" in Mindanao.
In his letter to the leadership of the Senate and the House of Representatives, Duterte included the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army as target of law enforcement operation for making Mindanao as their "hotbed of rebellion."
Duterte's letter dated Dec. 8, 2017 was addressed to Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.
"A further extension of the implementation of Martial Law and suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao will help the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines), the Philippine National Police (PNP), and all other law enforcement agencies to quell completely and put an end to the ongoing rebellion in Mindanao and prevent the same from escalating to other parts of the country," Duterte said in a 5-page letter, which Malacanang released on Monday.
He also cited that extension of martial law and suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus was not only for the sake of security and public order, but "more importantly to enable the government and the people of Mindanao to pursue the bigger task of rehabiliation and the promotion of a stable socio-economic growth and development."
Duterte has declared martial law and suspended the writ of habeas corpus in southern Philippines on May 23 shortly after the Islamic State-inspired Maute terror group attacked and occupied Marawi City. The President declared Marawi liberated from terrorists on October 17 following the death of terrorist leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute, among others.
Duterte is seeking for the extension of martial law proclamation following the recommendation of the police and the military.
The president initially imposed martial law for 60 days but this has been extended until Dec. 31, 2017.
In the letter to Congress, Duterte said despite the death of Hapilon and the Maute brothers, the remnants of their groups have continued to rebuild their organization through the recruitment and training of new memebrs and fighters to carry on the rebellion.
He noted that out of about 300 persons listed in the Martial Law arrest orders, which Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana issued shortly after the declaration of martial law, at least 185 remained at-large and, "in all probability, are presently regrouping and consolidating their forces."
Lorenzana is the martial law administrator.
Duterte also cited that government security forces have been monitoring continued efforts by the remnants of the terrorist group to recruit and radicalize and finance their protectors, supporters and sympathizers.
"These activities are geared towards the conduct of intensified atrocities and armed public uprisings in support of their objective of establishing the foundation of a global Islamic caliphate and of a Wilayat not only in the Philippines but also in the whole of Southeast Asia," he said.
Duterte said the government intelligence community was able to monitor the Turaifie Group planning to conduct bombings, notably targeting Cotabato area.
According to Duterte, Turaifie is said to be Hapilon's potential successor as Amir of DAESH Wilayat in the Philippines and Southeast Asia.
He also cited the need to address other terrorist and lawless elements in Mindanao, such as the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, the Abu Sayyaf Group and the communist New People's Army.
Duterte said the NPA rebels took advantage of the situation and intensified their decades-long rebellion against the government and stepped up terrorist acts against innocent civilians and private entities, as well as guerrilla warfare against the security sector and public and government infrastructure.
He said the leftist rebels have been doing these "purposely to seize political power through violent means and supplant the country's democratic form of government with communist rule."
"These recent developments involving the NDF (National Democratic Front)-CPP-NPA forbode another year of intensified armed hostilities which, together with other security concerns...continue to make Mindanao the hotbed of rebellion," he said.
Some quarters, including Albay Representative Edcel Lagman, have been opposing the extension of martial law, which is supposed to expire on Dec. 31, 2017.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, in a press briefing, said that those opposing further extension of martial law proclamation could go to the Supreme Court and question its legality.
But he expressed optimism that the high court would upheld further extension of martial law the same way that it affirmed its constitutionality when it was first challenged.
Under the 1987 Constitution, Congress, voting jointly, by a vote of at least majority of all its members in regular or special session, may revoke the proclamation of martial law and suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, which revocation shall not set aside by the President. Upon the initiative of the President, the Congress may, in the same manner, extend such proclamation or suspension for a period to be determined by the Congress, if the invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it. Celerina Monte/DMS