MANILA, Philippines — The country’s top security officials were mum on who recommended the five-month extension of martial law in Mindanao that President Rodrigo Duterte wants Congress to approve.
Duterte, who placed Mindanao under martial for 60 days from May 23, when fighting broke out between extremist gunmen and government forces in Marawi City, has asked Congress to extend this until December 31.
The legislature is expected to grant the request when it convenes in a special session on Saturday, July 22, the end of the 60-day period.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, asked if it was he, refused to answer outright saying “dahil nag-request na si Presidente, hindi naman importante kung ano ‘yung nirekomenda ko (because the President has made a request, what I recommended is not important).”
National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, on the other hand, denied making the recommendation but explained why the lengthy extension is needed, pointing out that, aside from the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Marawi City, there are other urgent tasks such as “de-radicalization” and “countering violent extremism.”
The two were among the officials who gave the Senate a closed-door security briefing on Wednesday.
While most senators at the briefing said they were inclined to agree to an extension, they had doubts about the length of time Duterte wants.
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