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Pres. Duterte extends martial law: ‘All options on the table’

“All options are on the table” to deal security threats, President Rodrigo Duterte said on Wednesday, as he raised the prospect of placing the entire Philippines under martial law.

The President thanked Congress for extending martial rule and said his “only consideration” was the welfare of the Philippines.

“At this time, all options are on the table. There is only one rationale there, the existence of the Republic of the Philippines. You threaten the existence of the Republic of the Philippines, I am sure that everybody will react and do what he must do prevent it,” Duterte said.

The President warned that expanding the scope of martial law would be up to the “enemies of the state,” which according to him included the communist New People’s Army (NPA).

“It is up to the enemies of the state. If the NPAs said they are recruiting en masse and they create trouble and they are armed and they are about to destroy the government, you know the government would not wait until the dying days of its existence,” he said.

“The government can always preempt and prevent that disaster. To what extend, what level of atrocities or attacks, it is not for me to say that. It is for the Armed Forces and the police,” the President added.

Duterte said a Christmas ceasefire with the NPAs would depend on the military.

Nationwide martial law feared

But Liberal Party senators and congressmen and the seven-man Makabayan bloc of the House of Representatives vehemently opposed the new extension of martial law, saying it is “unconstitutional.”

Senator Francis Pangilinan, who was among the 28 interpellators, said the approval of the extension of the martial law is “contrary to the Constitution” and is considered as the Congress members’ “abdication of their sacred duty to act as checks and balances of the government.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon insisted that the extension of martial law until next year “does not find basis under the Constitution.”

He emphasized that under the Constitution, the Congress can extend the proclamation of martial law only when there’s actual rebellion, which he said requires actual public uprising and taking arms to overthrow the government.

“There is no state of rebellion. These are only threats at this point. Actual armed conflict is basic foundation for the continued imposition of martial law,” he said.

by: C. Valente, TMT/ Atienza and H. Torregoza, mb.com