Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte [BBC profile] asked Congress on Tuesday to extend his order of martial law for the lower third of the country. Duterte declared martial law [JURIST report] on the island of Mindanao in May when heavily armed militants linked to the Islamic State [BBC profile] took over large parts of Marawi City, a provincial capital in the predominantly Roman Catholic country. More than 500 people have been killed in the fighting that has taken place since the take-over. The 60-day proclamation is due to expire on July 22 but Duterte contends that the rebellion that justified the declaration will not be quelled by then. Duterte requested that Congress, which is scheduled to reconvene for its regular session July 24, hold a special session to discuss the proposed extension. Opposition lawmakers question Duterte’s motivation behind the extension and feel that the move is unjustified calling it a “whimsical proposal that has no substantive grounds.”
Philippines has been on the international spotlight ever since Rodrigo Duterte took office as the president of the nation. Earlier this week, the Philippines Office of the Ombudsman [official website] announced plans to charge [JURIST report] former Philippines president Benigno Aquino III [Britannica profile] for the botched “anti-terror” raid that led to what is known as the Mamasapano massacre in 2015. In June, Philippine opposition lawmakers petitioned [JURIST report] the Supreme Court [official website] to reject President Rodrigo Duterte’s imposition of martial law. In April, a lawyer filed a complaint [JURIST report] against Duterte accusing him of extrajudicial killings during his nationwide anti-drugs crackdown. In March, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] released a report accusing the police of falsifying evidence [JURIST report] in relation to the alleged police killings of citizens. This policy of sanctioned killings has been part of Duterte’s rhetoric since his time as mayor of Davao City. In December the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein [official profile] called for a murder investigation [JURIST report] for a murder investigation of Duterte after he admitted to killing people while he served as mayor of Davao.