Security forces battling the Maute-ISIS group in Marawi City have recommended to President Duterte the extension of martial law in Mindanao, pushing for another five months more to end the terrorist group's violent foray into the already devastated city.
The legislative branch held a special joint session on Saturday, two days before it officially opens, to discuss President Rodrigo Duterte's request to extend martial law in Mindanao until December 31, 2017.
Members of both the Senate and House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted affirmatively hours before Duterte's 60-day martial law proclamation was due to lapse at midnight.
In a separate statement, Abella insisted that it was Duterte's duty to declare martial law in Mindanao to quell terrorism in the country.
House of Representatives Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said senators and House members voted 261-18 in favour of granting President Rodrigo Duterte's request in a special joint session on Saturday.
Duterte's administration claims the extension will give the government more time to tackle armed extremists allied with the Islamic State group.
All Cebu lawmaker namely Gerald Anthony Gullas, Wilfredo Caminero, Gwendolyn Garcia, Benhur Salimbangon, Ramon Durano, Jonas Cortes, Peter John Calderon, Raul Del Mar, and Rodrigo Abellanosa favored the President's request for an extension of the martial law.
This is for the first time that Congress voted on the extension of a martial law proclamation.
The siege on Marawi started when more than 600 heavily armed fighters, waving Islamic State group-style black flags, stormed into the city, occupying buildings, houses and mosques and taking hostages.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who is administrator of martial law, stressed that military rule need not to be imposed in other parts of the country amid continued operations of the Abu Sayyaf attack in Bohol and the operations of the New People's Army in Luzon.
Senate Minority Floor Leader Franklin Drilon said there is no evidence of rebellion in Mindanao.
In explaining earlier why martial law was declared and has covered the whole area of Mindanao, Lorenzana said Duterte wanted to end "once and for all" Mindanao's security problem.
However, Duterte's political foes disagreed.
"It was rigged from the start", said Cristina Palabay, secretary-general of the human rights group Karapatan, referring to the approval of the extended martial rule, and "had only one intended outcome - to rubberstamp the Congress' imprimatur on the legality of the declaration's extension".
The deliberation was briefly marred by protesters who managed to slip into the session hall.
Authorities say the intense fighting has left 413 militants, 98 members of security forces and 45 civilians dead while almost half a million residents have been displaced in Marawi and outlying towns.
Government troops pulverized and retook some of the Maute strongholds after weeks of artillery attacks and airstrikes, but an estimated 70 militants remained holed up in the downtown area.
Martial law allows the military to establish control, with measures such as curfews, checkpoints and gun control, in a country where civilians are allowed to keep licensed firearms at home.
National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon said there are 1,200 Islamist insurgents in Mindanao.
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