ROGER M. BALANZA
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez is sending the message that terrorists are in control of Marawi City.
This is the fatal comment that Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel dished out against Alvarez’s proposal to extend Martial Law in Mindanao for five years or up to the end of the term of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Senators have taken turns in shooting down the proposal of Alvarez that has gained widespread criticism, including Malacanang, the Department of National Defense and members of the House of Representatives.
Proclamation No. 216, issued by President Duterte on May 23 is constitutionally limited to 60 days and would end on July 22.
Under the Constitution, the President may seek an extension that has to be approved in joint session by the Senate and the House.
Pimentel and Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero said only President Duterte, not Alvarez, can decide on whether or not to extend Martial Law declared by the President in wake of the terrorist attack on Marawi City.
Senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito, who says he is prone to support an extension, is also against the Alvarez proposal to extend martial law up to 2022, at the end of the President’s term.
“Not during the entire term of President Duterte, “ said Ejercito, an administration ally.
Pimentel, president of the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilpino-Laban (PDP-Laban), was fatal on the Alvarez proposal.
Alvarez is sending a “message that rebellion is still there. Pag-isipan mabuti ‘yan,” Pimentel told GMA News.
“The request/initiative for extension should come from the President, who was the one who declared martial law,” Pimentel said in a text message.
Escudero also frowned on Alvarez’s idea saying that it is only the President who could seek an extension.
Ejercito said there is need for senators to better understand the situation in Marawi. He said he has requested Pimentel that the President’s security cluster brief the senators on what is happening on the ground.