Duterte cites attacks of NPA, other terror groups in request to extend martial law in Mindanao

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 11) — President Rodrigo Duterte has officially asked the House of Representatives to extend martial law in Mindanao for one more year.  The House received the President's letter of request today.  

The President cited attacks of local and foreign terrorist groups, as well as the "intensified" rebellion of the New People's Army (NPA), as reasons for the extension.

He said the communist rebels "took advantage" when the government was preoccupied with addressing the challenges posed by local terrorist groups.

"The NPA … intensified their decades-long rebellion against the government and stepped up terrorist acts against innocent civilians and private entities, as well as guerilla warfare against the security sector and public and government infrastructure, purposely to seize political power through violent means and supplant the country's democratic form of govt with communist rule," Duterte said.

The President added Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana himself, as Martial Law Administrator, recommended the extension for 1 year "to ensure total eradication" of terrorist groups.

"During the Martial Law period as extended in Mindanao, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has achieved remarkable progress in putting rebellion under control," Duterte said.

 

House Majority Leader Rudy Fariñas on Monday said the House and the Senate may hold a joint session on Thursday or Friday.

Congress is set to go on a Christmas break on December 15, and will resume its session on January 15, 2018.

However, the President can call for a special session of Congress at any time.

The AFP and the Philippine National Police on Friday recommended the extension of martial law in Mindanao, citing the threat posed by terrorist groups such as the Abu Sayyaf, as well as the ongoing rehabilitation in Marawi City.

READ: AFP, PNP recommend extension of martial law in Mindanao

The President declared martial law on May 23 after government forces clashed with members of the Maute terrorist group.

This led to a five-month battle in Marawi City, which has displaced around 360,000 people.

READ: After the crisis: Authorities, residents face challenges in rebuilding Marawi

Under the Constitution, the President can proclaim martial law for not more than 60 days.

The Congress, voting jointly, may revoke the proclamation. It can also extend martial law "if the invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it."

On July 22 - the supposed expiration of the 60-day military rule - Congress granted the President's request to extend martial law in the south until the end of the year.

Opposition lawmakers sought the help of the Supreme Court to reverse the President's decision, but the high court upheld martial law in Mindanao last December 5.