Justice Carpio: No limits to extending martial law

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 10) — President Rodrigo Duterte could repeatedly ask Congress to extend martial law for as many times as he would deem necessary as there are no limits to its extension, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said Monday.

"As long as the grounds exist. The grounds for declaring martial law continue, then you can continue with martial law," Carpio said.

The 1987 Constitution, drafted after the fall of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos who imposed a brutal martial rule, only allows a 60-day period for the imposition of martial law, unless it is extended by Congress.

Duterte first declared martial law in Mindanao in May 2017 and has twice asked the legislature to extend martial law in Mindanao, making it last until the end of this year.

Upon the recommendation of security forces, the President asked Congress anew to extend martial law in the southern Philippines until the end of 2019, with the proposal getting the backing of Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the majority leaders of the House and the Senate.

The imposition of martial law in Mindanao has been taken up by the Supreme Court three times, with the court upholding its continued implementation in all instances.

Carpio had twice rejected the imposition of martial law in Mindanao. In rejecting the extension of martial law until the end of 2018, Carpio said the rebellion in Mindanao has ceased with the death of the Maute group's leader Isnilon Hapilon and the liberation of Marawi City.

READ: Dissenting SC justices: No need for martial law in Mindanao

Article VII, Section 18 of the Constitution states that the president may declare martial law in the Philippines or any part of the country "in case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it."

While Duterte declared in October 2017 that Marawi has been liberated, the Defense department said martial law is still needed to quell terrorist activity, especially since they have received reports that terrorists from Malaysia, Indonesia and the Middle East who are experts in bomb making have entered the country's southern region.

Security forces also said that there is a strong clamor from residents and local government officials to continue with the implementation of martial law in Mindanao.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Carlito Galvez AFP, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles and Interior Secretary Eduardo Año were at the Senate this morning to give senators a security briefing.

Before this briefing, senators were divided on extending martial law. Some believe that there is no basis to extend martial law for another year, while others are ready to vote in favor of the proposal if it is necessary in the region.

Congress is expected to convene in a joint session on Wednesday, December 12, where it would decide on whether to grant Duterte's request for another extension of martial law in Mindanao.

The lower house, dominated by Duterte's allies, outnumbers the 23-member Senate and has consistently voted in favor of the President's policies.

CNN Philippines Correspondent Joyce Ilas contributed to this report.