Rep. Arthur Yap voted with the majority favoring the extension of martial law in Mindanao up to December 31 during the yesterday’s seven-hour joint session of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The proposal to extend the martial law in Mindanao for 60 days more got a total of 261 combined votes from both houses, and only 18 voted “No”.
Senators voted 16-4 out of 23 senators (minus Alan Peter Cayetano), while the House of Representatives tally clinched at 245-14.
The four senators who voted “no” were Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, and Senators Francis Pangilinan, Risa Hontiveros, and Bam Aquino.
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea appeared before the Congress to formally request the extension of martial law on behalf of the President and the government.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff General Eduardo Año, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. and PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa also attended to give a briefing on the situation in Marawi City that is a major factor for President Rodrigo Duterte to propose for the extension of martial for another 60-day period.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial, and Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade also showed up at the Congress.
For his part, Rep. Sherwin Tugna explained that he “believes rebellion persists, and the extension of the state of martial law and suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is required to maintain peace and public safety”.
This is, he said, “upon evaluation of the events that transpired after the issuance of Proclamation No. 216, the current situation in Marawi City, and threats to major cities in Mindanao especially in Central Mindanao according to DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Executive Secretary Medialdea, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines”.
“Based on the assessment of the Department of the National Defense and Armed Forces of the Philippines considering the tactics, training, intelligence, funds and resources of the Maute group and other terrorist and rebel groups in Mindanao that it will take a longer period of time for them to restore peace and public safety in Mindanao upon which the President is ensured to properly enforce the laws of the land, I vote to extend the declaration of the state of martial law and suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus until December 31, 2017 in the whole of Mindanao. And I uphold and respect the Constitution by respecting the sole power of the President to determine the territorial coverage of the declaration of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, as upheld by the Supreme Court decision last July 4, 2017,” according to Tugna.
Tugna added that it not only the battle for the military, but for all to ensure “that peace is restored in Mindanao and that public safety is protected is not only a battle for the military but for all of us”.
“It is a battle that we must win at all costs because we cannot afford more lives and properties destroyed. We will not let terrorist groups take hold of our territory in order to establish their own province and perpetuate crimes, instill fear among our citizens and disrupt our orderly lives,” according to Tugna.
“The long-drawn conflict between state troops and Islamic State-linked terrorists in Marawi City” was the main consideration that Duterte requested for the extension of martial law in Mindanao for 60 days more.