Philippines: Congress to vote today on Mindanao martial law extension
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Philippines: Congress to vote today on Mindanao martial law extension

THE Philippine Congress will decide today whether to extend martial law in Mindanao for 6o days or until year end, as fighting continues between the army and Islamic State-linked rebels.

President Rodrigo Duterte wants martial law extended until Dec 31, 2017, over concerns of the ongoing fierce fighting between government troops and rebels from the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups who took over parts of Marawi City since May 23.

“The primary objective of the possible extension is to allow our forces to continue with their operations unhampered by deadlines and to focus more on the liberation of Marawi and its rehabilitation and rebuilding,” said presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella, reading a letter signed by Duterte.

According to PhilStar, several senators have called for the law to be extended for only 60-days or less as they are not convinced that another five months of lockdown is necessary.

Authorities say the intense fighting has left 413 militants, 98 members of security forces and 45 civilians dead while nearly half a million residents have been displaced in Marawi and outlying towns.