'Unlimited peace, not unlimited martial law'

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"The motion to further extend the proclamation of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is hereby approved", House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said after a 240-27 vote at a joint session.

The Philippine Congress approved Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's request on Wednesday to extend the martial law in Mindanao for another year to "quell completely" the terrorist and rebels in the southern Philippine region.

A nominal voting, wherein members vote one by one, will then be conducted, calling Senate members first, then House members next.

The issue was raised by the legislators on Wednesday during the four-hour deliberations.

Although congressional approval of Duterte's request was already expected, several lawmakers still questioned the constitutionality of another extension, considering that combat operations in Marawi City have ended and there is no actual rebellion or invasion.

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The extension, until December 31 next year, would mark the longest period of martial law since the 1970s era of late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, one of the darkest and most oppressive chapters of the country's recent history.

The resource persons are Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Armed Forces chief General Rey Leonardo Guerrero, Department of Interior and Local Government officer-in-charge Catalino Cuy, and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon.

"Is this now a prelude to declaring martial law nationwide?" said senate minority leader Franklin Drilon.

He said the the goal in Mindanao is to defeat terrorism, continue the war on drugs, and pursue peace as well as economic reforms - the same things the senators want.

"What we are seeing actually is the rebellion has not stopped, it has moved to another place".

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In his letter dated December 8, Duterte asked Congress to further extend the declaration of martial law in the whole of Mindanao for 2018 to totally eradicate terror threats posed by remnants of IS-linked terrorists and by communist rebels in the region.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said there is no justification for a series of extensions.

The President imposed military rule in Mindanao on May 23 after terrorists laid siege to Marawi City, kidnapped dozens of civilians and burned infrastructure.

Duterte enjoys massive public support but his frequent threats to expand martial law are contentious in a country that suffered nine years of oppression under Marcos before his ouster in 1986.

He said extending martial law for another year would help state security forces crush the rebellion in Mindanao and ensure public safety.

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He said remnants of the Maute group were trying to rebuild their organization by recruiting more people from Maguindanao, Sulu, Basilan and North Cotabato.

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