ZAMBOANGA CITY – First district Rep. Celso Lobregat on Tuesday expressed optimism that President Rodrigo Duterte can win the support of Congress to extend the imposition of martial law in Mindanao.
Duterte is required to seek the approval of Congress if he wishes to extend the martial law implementation as required under the 1987 Philippine constitution.
Congress and the Senate will convene in a joint session to vote for its approval once the President will seek an extension of martial law implementation.
Lobregat said the situation would depend on the wisdom of the President if he wishes to ask for months or years for the extension or until the local terrorists movement has been neutralized and their activities and cohorts are suppressed.
“As of now we have the numbers in congress, it will be easy for the majority to support any request of President Duterte to extend martial law in Mindanao either for 60, 90 days or even a year, depending on his justification,” Lobregat said.
But he said it will be another story if the President would request to include other areas aside from Mindanao to be placed under martial law.
“Again there can be a debate if there will be a new declaration, like imposing it or spread it in the entire country, that’s another story,” he said.
He said the imposition of martial law is getting a lot of positive feedback and positive outlook in the downgrading of criminality and rebellion in the entire Mindanao region, which is more favorable for the national government as well.
“I will be fully supporting the move of the president to extend martial law in Mindanao if it will be for the common good,” he added.
Duterte placed Min-danao under martial law when the Maute group backed by Abu Sayyaf bandits went berserk and occupied several establishments when government forces raided the hideout of Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon.
The Islamic State for Iraq and Syria (ISIS)-inspired Maute group provides protection to Hapilon, who pledged allegiance to the ISIS. TPGJR/PNA