AFP to brief Senate on proposed martial law extension
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is holding a security briefing with senators on Monday to tackle the proposed extension of martial law in Mindanao.
Sotto said on Friday the briefing will be held in an executive session, before the Senate resumes consideration of the proposed 2019 national budget.
“Monday morning we have a briefing from the AFP,” he said.
Martial law in Mindanao was declared on May 23, 2017, following attacks launched by the Maute Group in Marawi City. Since then, Congress has twice granted the President’s request for the extension of martial law in the region, with the last one expiring on Dec. 31, 2018.
The AFP and the Philippine National Police have recommended at least another year of extension, citing the continued presence of terror threats and the upcoming plebiscite on the Bangsamoro Organic Law and the mid-term elections as basis.
Sotto said President Rodrigo Duterte also sent him a message informing him of a possible joint session of Congress by Wednesday to tackle the issue.
“I’m still waiting for the President’s letter re: joint session,” he said in a text message.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said he is hoping the joint session would be called in the morning and not in the afternoon, so as not to further delay the passage of the 2019 national budget.
Zubiri said a joint session in the afternoon would derail plans to pass the budget on second and third reading by Wednesday, hold a bicameral conference committee meeting, and convene a special session the week before Christmas to ratify the measure.
Zubiri said he is appealing to Malacañang to call the joint session in the morning to give the Senate time to finish the budget in the evening.
“Our plan is to go to the House of Representatives in the morning for the joint session and be back at the Senate in the afternoon. At least by 1 o’clock, we resume consideration on the budget bill so that we can take up at least another eight hours to 10 hours that day,” he said.
“Hopefully, we’ll be able to approve it that day (Wednesday) for third and final reading,” he added.#