THE Mindanao region remains under a state of national emergency even as martial rule expired on Dec. 31, presidential spokesman Salvador S. Panelo said on Friday.

This is in keeping with Proclamation 55 issued in September 2016, which ordered the Armed Forces and Philippine National Police to suppress all forms of lawless violence in the region, he said.

Mr. Panelo said President Rodrigo R. Duterte has the power to call out the Armed Forces, place any part of the country under martial law and suspend the privilege of writ of habeas corpus.

“While this calling out power is contained in the same provision which sanctions the imposition of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, the same is unique in that it can be used independently without the participation of Congress,” he added.

“Its actual use cannot be subjected to judicial review unless constitutional boundaries are violated,” Mr. Panelo said.

Mr. Duterte first placed Mindanao under martial rule in 2017 for 60 days, after terrorists linked to Islamic State attacked Marawi City.

Congress extended this until the end of 2017 upon Mr. Duterte’s request and again until December 2018. It was extended anew until December 2019. — Charmaine A. Tadalan