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Speaker Alvarez sees House, Senate okay for ML extension

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez today said he expects Congress to grant President Rodrigo Duterte's request for the extension of martial law in the entire Mindanao to address the on-going threat posed by the Maute terrorist group, said to be affiliated with the Islamic State (IS).

Pres. Duterte requested Congress to hold a joint special session on Saturday to decide on his request for the extension of his proclamation placing the entire Mindanao under martial law. The proclamation is in effect for 60 days, or until July 22, unless revoked sooner or extended by Congress.

Alvarez noted that majority of the Filipino are in favor of Duterte's move to declare martial law to restore peace and order not only in the center of conflict in Marawi City but also to prevent the spread of lawlessness and violence in the entire Mindanao.

Sa tingin ko ano, tuloy-tuloy lang ito. Kasi nakita naman natin ano, in all surveys, talagang pabor yung taong bayan dun sa declaration ng martial law sa Mindanao. Ibig sabihin, na-appreciate nila kung gaano kabigat yung problema, Alvarez said in a radio interview.

Alvarez pointed out that even if the hostilities in Marawi had stopped, it does not mean the threat of the terrorist group is over.

Kahit matapos yung bakbakan diyan sa Marawi ay hindi nangangahulugan na tapos na yung problema, dahil po tiyak ito ay may resbak din. Iyan ang pinangangambahan natin and nakita ko nga talagang nangangamba, hindi lang sa Mindanao kundi ang buong sambayanan., he said.

He said that as required under the 1987 Constitution, Congress must hold a joint session if the President would request an extension of martial law not only to decide would support such request but also to determine the duration of the extension.

Ang pagkaintindi ko po, wala pong nakalagay na limit no? So depende na ho sa Kongreso kung hanggang kailan nila pupuwedeng i-extend ang martial law, Alvarez added.

However, Alvarez said the issue of the IS threat should not be shelved after Congress has disposed of the issue of martial law extension. He said that Congress should also conduct an assessment of the Marawi crisis.

Alvarez agreed that Congress should inquire into possible lapses of the intelligence community in assessing the Maute threat and how the terrorist group managed to stockpile so many armaments and ammunition enough to fend off assaults by government forces for over a month.

Kailangan tingnan natin ito from all angles. Unang una yung bakit hindi nakita ito ng mga LGUs, like mga barangay captain, mayors at saka yung ibang mga opisyales? Pangalawa, bakit din nakakalusot itong mga foreigners? Alvarez said.

Likewise, Alvarez said he supports the proposal for the implementation of a national ID system as well as more modern surveillance equipment to monitor terrorist activities.

Meanwhile, Alvarez said the House of Representatives will also support other initiatives that would address the roots of the decades-old armed rebellion of Muslims in Mindanao, such as the new proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and the shift to a federal form of government.

Alvarez said that with the BBL supported by two of the largest armed rebel groups in Mindanao, namely the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the government would present a more formidable front to stem the terrorist threat.

Source: House of Representatives

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