Philippines: martial law extended in the south up to the end of 2017 by the Parliament
The president Rodrigo Duterte imposed a martial law for 60 days in this region. The period was coming to an end on Saturday.
Saturday, 22 July, 2017 06:00
Saturday, 22 July, 2017 06:00
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MANILA, Philippines | The Parliament of the philippines has extended on Saturday until the end of 2017 the martial law in the south of the country in order to counter a rising islamist, despite the risk of an authoritarian drift feared by opponents.
The parliamentarians of the two chambers, assembled in Congress, have responded positively to a call from the president Rodrigo Duterte for an extension of martial law in the Mindanao region in order to fight against armed islamists occupying the southern areas of the country for two months.
The vote, by an overwhelming majority, came as the army always attempts to defeat the islamist fighters based in Marawi, the largest muslim city in a predominantly catholic country.
On 23 may, armed men claiming to be from the group islamic State (EI) had taken control of entire neighbourhoods in Marawi. Rodrigo Duterte was then imposed martial law for 60 days in this region. The period was coming to an end on Saturday.
While Duterte has the majority in both houses, the vote in favour of the extension of martial law was a foregone conclusion. This has not prevented the opposition to criticize this measure, which this, according to them, a risk of an authoritarian drift.
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.
In addition, they fear an extension to the whole country. “I fear that the project of extension of the martial law in Mindanao paves the way for martial law across the Philippines,” said a senator, Risa Hontiveros, before the vote.
“Cleaning” to come
A slide presentation supporting the request of the president, seen by AFP, has established a link between the crisis of Marawi with the decision by the group islamic State, of the city of Mosul in Iraq. Marawi might now become a magnet for fighters from Iraq and Syria, writes the president Duterte.
According to his camp, most of the leaders of the islamist fighters, are still free.
Representatives of the army and national security have justified the extension of martial law in ensuring that militant jihadists were planning attacks in other parts of the Mindanao region. They also said that about a thousand militants pro-islamic State, holding 23 hostages, were still active elsewhere in the south.
Rodrigo Duterte claimed that the army had need of the martial law in order to rebuild the city of Marawi and ensure that the war remains contained to this area.
“I can’t afford to be complacent”, had declared on Friday to journalists the president Duterte, adding that the military would lead to other operations of “cleaning” even after you have regained Marawi.
The Constitution allows the head of the State to enforce martial law for 60 days, which allows him “to use the armed forces to prevent or put an end to illegal violence, invasion or rebellion.” Beyond that, the president may extend martial law for a period to be decided by the Congress.