By Alexis Romero
MANILA, Philippines - The five-year martial law extension proposed by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez might be too long, the military said yesterday, as it stressed that the decision to prolong the proclamation would depend on the situation on the ground.
Alvarez is planning to persuade Congress to extend martial law in Mindanao for five years to allow President Duterte to put an end to terrorism and rebellion in the south.
Duterte imposed military rule in Mindanao on May 23 after Islamic State-inspired Maute terrorists occupied Marawi City, torched several buildings and kidnapped dozens of civilians.
The 1987 Constitution permits the President to impose martial law for up to 60 days, but this can be extended by Congress if the invasion or rebellion persists and public safety requires it. Duterte’s martial law in Mindanao will lapse on July 23.
Armed Forces spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla told a press briefing at Malacañang that security forces are still assessing whether to recommend the extension of martial law, but he said five years may be too long.
“The Armed Forces, before it makes its recommendation to the commander-in-chief, must have enough basis, an intelligent basis, to make whatever recommendations there are for the extension or the lifting,” Padilla said.
Asked why he thinks five years is too long, Padilla replied: “I do not know the basis of our Speaker because martial law is a political decision.”
“The Department of National Defense or the armed forces will just come up with recommendation but the eventual decision will come from the political leadership which has a wider perspective and basis,” he added.
“It is possible that he (Alvarez) has information that we do not have. Our basis is the threats we are facing right now.”
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