MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday thanked Congress for approving his request to extend martial law in Mindanao for one more year.
In a speech at the Philippine Army headquarters in Taguig, Duterte said Congress’ approval of the martial law extension until 2018 showed that it understands “the plight of the Filipinos.”
Duterte said the congressional approval provides the government a “big window” in its fight against terrorism in Mindanao.
“There’s a one year (extension). It’s a big window actually for all of us. I’m not a dreamer but the reality is kapag one year, kapag continuous and bakbakan, mauubusan ng tao ‘yan, pati bala,” Duterte said, referring to the terrorists in the restive southern region.
“Meron akong mga attack helicopters, kayo ang pag-praktisan ko,” said Duterte during the event where the military destroyed firearms seized from terrorists defeated in Marawi City following five months of firefights.
Duterte also noted that martial law will enable state troops to easily run after terrorists and their coddlers.
“Mahirapan talaga ako ‘pag walang martial law sa Mindanao… Without the martial powers, the ancillary powers attached to the implementors, the implementing agency, mahihirapan tayo. he said.
“Ilang oras lang tayo pwede mag-detain a person? The longest is 36 hours. You think you can really solve the problem, the crime?”
After four hours of deliberations on Wednesday, a total of 240 legislators voted to extend military rule anew until the end of 2018, while 27 rejected the proposal.
Breaking down the votes per chamber, the Senate tallied 14-4, while the House of Representatives voted 226-23.
Duterte placed Mindanao, home to 22 million people, under military rule after Islamic State sympathizers attacked Marawi on May 23. On his request after the lapse of the initial 60-day declaration, lawmakers in July extended martial law until December 31.
In his letter to Congress on Monday, Duterte cited a lingering terror threat in Mindanao as well as the armed insurgency of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) in seeking another extension of martial law until the end of next year.
Over 1,100 people, mostly Islamic State-inspired terrorists, were killed in the siege, which also displaced over 300,000 residents from the city considered as the center of Islamic faith in Mindanao.