Majority bloc senators: Martial law extension will be easy to approve

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(CNN Philippines, July 10) — Members of the Senate majority bloc said it would be easy to approve extending martial law in Mindanao if President Rodrigo Duterte requests it.

When Sen. Tito Sotto was asked if he sees an "easy" approval of Duterte's expected request to Congress to extend martial law in Mindanao, he said, "Yes, if the situation so warrants."

Sen. JV Ejercito also agreed with Sotto, adding that justifying the extension is easier since there have been no atrocities or any human rights violations committed since imposition of martial law.

"We want to be briefed so that we'll have a better grasp and understanding of the situation on the ground in Marawi," he said.

Sen. Sonny Angara said he wants the Senate to ask for a military briefing.

"We will ask for a briefing from the military, which is what we also requested for after the initial proclamation, and then we take it from there," Angara said.

Sen. Gringo Honasan said the extension should be based on "complete, accurate and timely" information.

"It all depends on the most current comprehensive consolidated report from the martial law administrators, local governments, and coordinated agencies on the ground," Honasan said in a message.

Meanwhile, Sen. Ping Lacson said the approval will depend on how the administration will defend their reasons to extend martial law in Mindanao.

"It will largely depend on how the security officials of the government will present their case to the Congress, notwithstanding the overwhelming number of allies the President has in both Houses," Lacson said.

Sen. Francis Escudero said the extension will be granted if the Duterte administrations shows that the problem is "still subsisting" and that martial law is necessary to address it.

Sotto, Lacson, Ejercito, Angara and Honasan were part of the 15 senators who signed Senate Resolution No. 388 expressing the Senate's support for Duterte's declaration of martial law in Mindanao as being  "satisfactory, constitutional, and in accordance with the law."

Escudero, Poe, and the remaining six senators from the minority bloc did not sign the resolution.

President Duterte earlier said an extension of the martial law and suspension of the privilege of habeas corpus is warranted if need be, as clashes between government forces and the Maute groups in the war-torn Marawi City continue.

The outbreak of violence prompted Duterte to declare martial law on March 23, 2017  throughout the city of Marawi and the wider island of Mindanao, of which Marawi is a part.

Under the 1987 Constitution, the President may only declare martial law for 60 days. Congress has the power to extend or revoke its declaration.

CNN Philippines' Correspondent Cecille Lardizabal contributed to this report.