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Sunday, 23 July 2017

A joint session of the Philippine congress on Saturday approved the request of President Rodrigo Duterte to extend a 60-day martial law

Philippines extends martial law in south to year end

image: http://www.thestar.com.my/~/media/online/2017/07/22/09/37/philippines-unrest-conflict-duterte-20170720-111611.ashx/?w=620&h=413&crop=1&hash=013E9F5739C9E047673A59E9B95715D2402D9EA8
This handout photo taken and released on July 20, 2017 by the Philippine Army shows Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (centre) examining seized weaponry from Islamist militants during a visit to a military camp in Marawi on the southern island of Mindanao. - AFP
This handout photo taken and released on July 20, 2017 by the Philippine Army shows Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (centre) examining seized weaponry from Islamist militants during a visit to a military camp in Marawi on the southern island of Mindanao. - AFP
 
MANILA: A joint session of the Philippine congress on Saturday approved the request of President Rodrigo Duterte to extend a 60-day martial law he imposed in the entire Mindanao in southern Philippines, China's Xinhua news agency reported.
After debating for seven hours, 261 lawmakers - 16 from the Senate and 245 from the lower house - voted in favour of the extension.
Only 18 voted against the motion - four senators and 14 members of the House of Representatives.
The vote came hours before the 60-day martial law proclamation ends on Saturday night.
In a letter to the congress last week, Duterte stressed the need to extend the martial law until Dec 31, 2017, saying terror threat continues to hang over the Mindanao region and that more time is needed to crush the terror network that plans to establish a caliphate in that region.
On May 23, Duterte put the entire Mindanao under martial rule for 60 days after an estimated 700 extremists allied with Islamic State laid siege to the southern Marawi City.
"Upon a thorough personal assessment of the current situation in Marawi City and other parts of Mindanao, I have come to the conclusion that the existing rebellion in Mindanao, which prompted me to issue Proclamation No. 216 on May 23, 2017, will not be quelled completely by July 22, 2017, the last day of the 60-day period provided under section 18, article 7 of the 1987 constitution," Duterte said in the letter to the Senate president and speaker of the House of Representatives.
In his letter to the Congress, Duterte also said the militants' nearly two-month occupation of Marawi City has introduced an evolving type of "urban warfare" that may spill over to the other nearby provinces in Mindanao.
"Indeed, the crisis in Marawi City has introduced a newly evolving type of urban warfare - one that is characterised by the rebels' total disregards for civilian lives, cruelty to combatants and non-combatants alike, and widespread looting and pillaging of occupied communities," the letter read.
Despite the progress and significant strides against the extremists in Marawi City, Duterte claimed "the rebellion persists and a lot more remains to be done to completely quell the same and bring back the public order and safety in Mindanao."
The president said the terrorists continue to possess reinforcements, weapons, ammunition, and other supplies from outside Marawi.
The militants are reportedly holding about 300 civilian hostages in Marawi.
The military said the ongoing Marawi conflict has so far claimed the lives of nearly 600 people, including 428 terrorists, 105 security forces and 45 civilians.
The Health Department said 40 more civilian evacuees who fled Marawi have also died from illnesses. It said nearly 500,000 civilians have been affected by the 60-day conflict.
More than 800 soldiers have also been wounded in the fighting to retake the rest of the city where around 80 militants are still holed up.
National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon said there are 1,200 insurgents in Mindanao, specifically in the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Jolo and Sulu. - Bernama

Read more at http://www.thestar.com.my/news/regional/2017/07/22/philippnes-extend-martial-law-end-of-year/#MFdZyg30zPh35PRE.99

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