Senators Richard Gordon and Miguel Zubiri on Wednesday said they will support President Rodrigo Duterte’s request to extend martial law in Mindanao so as not to hamper rehabilitation efforts in Marawi City.
In an interview, Zubiri said rebuilding and reconstruction efforts in strife-torn areas are often under “constant harassment.”
“Kung gusto natin marebuild agad, kailangan natin proteksyonan yung area. I’m in favor and I feel it is necessary. It is more than enough to weed out its armed elements,” Zubiri, an ally of the President, said.
Malacañang on Tuesday said Duterte has requested Congress to extend his 60-day martial law declaration in Mindanao until December 31, 2017.
Zubiri said his personal suggestion was to extend martial law by another six months.
“Sixty days parang bitin. Parang babalik si Presidente sa’min at hihingi ng extension. My suggestion was six months, then they said 60 days. Tapos biglang ngayon five months pala,” he said.
Zubiri, along with other majority bloc senators and several congressmen, had a dinner meeting with Duterte Monday to discuss the situation in Marawi City.
Gordon, for his part, said he would have wanted to extend martial law for only 60 days more, but added that he understands where Duterte is coming from.
“You may need a certain amount of powers, para mabigla at maramdaman ng mga mamamayang Pilipino doon yung kaginhawaan. That’s very important,” Gordon said.
“We’re not just talking about the war situation all the way. We’re talking about a peaceful situation. We’re headed for peace,” he added.
Meanwhile, Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV said he wants to find out first the reasons behind the requested five-month extension.
Congress will convene in joint session Saturday to discuss and decide on the President’s request.
Days before the joint session, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., along with martial law administrator and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, and martial law implementor and AFP chief of staff General Eduardo Año, held a security briefing for senators.