MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - President Rodrigo Duterte has called for a special joint session of Congress to consider the extension of martial law in Mindanao.
Martial law in Mindanao lapses on Saturday, the 60th day after it was declared.
House Majority Leader Rodolfo Farinas made the announcement in a Viber message to congressional reporters. "NOTICE TO ALL MEMBERS: The President will call the Congress to a Special Session on Saturday, Jul 22, 2017, at 9am, to consider the extension of Martial Law. See you, please! Thank you!!"
Asked if this will be a joint session, Farinas said, "Of course, it will be a joint session as required by the Constitution for the Congress to consider the initiative of the President to extend Martial Law."
Senator Tito Sotto confirmed this in the President's meeting with lawmakers Monday night to receive the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) from the executive.
Asked for the length of the extension, Fariñas said: "He mentioned the period but let's wait for his formal letter to Congress. In fact, he only informed us at his table about his request for extension."
Among those who first learned of Duterte's request for extension were Senate President Koko Pimentel, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Sotto, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, and Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said there is a need for Duterte's call for a special session.
"The President's call for a special session is necessitated by the exigency to deliberate on the possible extension of the period of effectivity of Proclamation 216, which will end next week," he said.
"Congress has to discuss and consider the actual parameters to extend martial law and suspension of the writ of habeas corpus," Abella added.
Earlier Monday, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said it will seek an extension of martial law, but will leave the duration to Congress.
Martial law critics criticized the decision.
Makabayan bloc Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao said in a statement, "Anakpawis will consistently register our opposition if ever the Pres. requests congress for the extension of ML [martial law]."
Opposition lawmaker Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat, for his part, wants more debates on the matter and that it be limited to Marawi City or Lanao del Sur province.
Baguilat said, "[The] session should be earlier. There should be time for us to be apprised by the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] or Malacanang of the situation in Marawi and the entire island of Mindanao before we even consider an extension. Sana magkaroon ng sapat na talakayan. At hindi yung ipipilit na ipasa agad sa araw na iyon. Kung mapatunayan ng AFP na nakatulong ang Martial Law ngunit di pa nila controlled ang situation at kailangan ng maikling extension, then baka pumayag pa ako. Pero sa Marawi o Lanao lang sana."
Asked how long the extension should be, Baguilat said, "As I understand, it cannot be more than 60 days. It can't be indefinite. But that's why kinakailangan sana ng pag-uulat ng AFP at talakayan para alamin kung ano sana ang recommendations nila."
Last Saturday, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he had already submitted to Malacañang his recommendation on the extension of martial law, which included inputs from the AFP and the PNP.
Duterte declared martial law for the entire Mindanao island on May 23, following clashes between government troops and Maute terrorists in Marawi City.
As of July 9, the death toll in the Marawi crisis had reached at least 500, with at least 379 terrorists, 89 soldiers, and 39 civilians killed. - with a report from Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN New