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Senate votes 14-4 approving Mindanao martial law extension for one year

The Senate on Wednesday voted 14-4 approving President Rodrigo Duterte’s request to extend martial law in Mindanao for one year or until December 2018.

Members of the minority bloc led by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon voted against the extension during joint session of Congress. The other three are Senators Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, and Risa Hontiveros.

Article VII, Section 18 of the 1987 Constituion provides that martial law may be extended through “a vote of at least a majority of all its members in regular or special session.”

The minority senators questioned the legality of Duterte’s request, pointing out that Marawi City has been declared “liberated” by the chief executive last October.

Drilon warned that another extension can be a “prelude to declaring martial law nationwide.”

“The NPA conflict has been there for the last four decades. Suddenly, the NPA is cited as an additional group for martial law extension in Mindanao…Is this now a prelude to declaring martial law nationwide?” Drilon said during the joint session of Congress.

Pangilinan meanwhile questioned the length of the extension, saying the President’s extra ordinay powers to declare martial law “must not be exercised whimsically or abitrarily.”

In his letter requesting for another extension, Duterte cited threats from ISIS-inspired groups and “communist terrorists."

Members of the House of Representatives are still voting on Duterte's request for extension as of this posting. —ALG, GMA News