Roque: Duterte may decide on martial law extension next week

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 02 2017 01:18 PM | Updated as of Dec 02 2017 04:50 PM

Officials are mulling the extension of martial law in Mindanao to ensure security in the region just as government starts rehabilitation work in war-torn Marawi City. The city, as seen in this file photo, was left in ruins by five months of firefights between state troops and Islamic State-linked terrorists. Fernando G. Sepe Jr., ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATE) - President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to decide on the extension of martial law in Mindanao next week as the military has already crafted its recommendation, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Saturday, just as government initiated rehabilitation efforts in war-torn Marawi City.

Roque said he already received the recommendation from the Armed Forces but declined to give details until next week, when the document is formally submitted to the President.

"Mayroon na silang desisyon. Ibibigay nila ito kay Presidente ngayong Linggong ito. Mayroon na kasi silang binigay na statement (pero) Monday ko na babasahin," Roque said in a press briefing in Zamboanga City.

(The military has already decided. They will give the recommendation to the President this Sunday. I also received their statement but I will announce it on Monday.)

Roque did not categorically say if military officials supported calls to extend martial law in Mindanao, but he said military rule would help in rebuilding the Islamic city as "the threat of terrorism remains."

Martial law was first declared in Mindanao on May 23, when firefights between government and Islamic State-linked terrorists erupted in Marawi City. In July, upon the lapse of the initial 60-day declaration, Congress extended it to Dec. 31 on Duterte's request.

"Bagamat na-liberate na natin ang Marawi, ang banta ng terorismo at violent extremism ay nananatili," Roque said of the firefights that ended on Oct. 23.

"Makakatulong ang martial law sa proseso ng pagbabangon sa Marawi kasi can you imagine? Well I don't want to preempt... pero lahat ng involved sa [Task Force] Bangon Marawi, they will feel safer if the President will exercise his power as commander-in-chief," he said.

On Friday, Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) chairperson Eduardo del Rosario, head of Task Force Bangon Marawi, said martial rule in Mindanao would be helpful in securing rehabilitation activities in the city, which was left in ruins after five months of fierce clashes. 

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez also said he is in favor of another extension of martial law in Mindanao, citing security concerns in the region.

MINORITY SENATORS SAY NO TO EXTENSION

But senators from the minority bloc said Saturday the imposition of martial law during Marawi's rebuilding is unnecessary.

"Mismong militar na ang nagdeklarang malaya na ang Marawi City mula sa kuko ng teroristang Maute kaya wala nang dahilan pa upang palawigin ang batas militar sa rehiyon. Ang sinasabing banta sa kaayusan at krimen ay maaari nang tugunan ng mga pulis," Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and other opposition Senators Kiko Pangilinan, Bam Aquino, Risa Hontiveros, and Antonio Trillanes IV said in a joint statement Saturday.

"Instead of focusing on extending martial law, the government should train its sights on the quick rehabilitation of Marawi City so our Maranao brothers and sisters can resume their normal lives at the soonest possible time," they said.

Roque, meanwhile, disregarded criticism from those outside Mindanao.

"What matters most is the view of the stakeholders, the view of the Mindanaoans on martial law. Kung ang mga taga Mindanao ay hindi tumututol, why should people from Luzon complain? Hindi naman sila apektado," he said in his presser.

Roque said Duterte will issue his decision on the matter before Congress goes on holiday break by mid-December.

"Congress will go on recess on the 15th and, as you all know, we cannot have an extension without the consent of Congress," he said.