MANILA – Terrorists were still “lurking” in Mindanao, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said.
The military was recommending a one-year extension of the martial law in the southern major island the was set to expire by year-end.
If approved by Congress, this will be the third time that the military rule – originally for only 60 days – gets extended.
The recommendation was based on feedback from the Regional Tactical Operations Center, local government units in Mindanao and the Commission on Elections, said General Carlito Galvez Jr., Armed Forces chief of staff.
“Various agencies have recommended for the martial law extension [of] at least one year,” Galvez said in an interview at Camp Aguinaldo on Monday.
“There is really a clamor for the extension, considering that the terrorists are still lurking in the area,” said the military official.
President Rodrigo Duterte first placed Mindanao under martial law in May 23, 2017 after the Maute group, a local organization of Islamic State-affiliated terrorists, laid siege on Marawi City.
“We will forward the recommendation to Defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana so we can substantially make a significant dent on terrorists,” Galvez said.
Some of the bases for the recommendation, he said, were the blast in Basilan, encounters in Sulu and bomb explosions in central Mindanao.
“The Sulu problem still persists,” he said. “We also have bombings in Isulan, GenSan (General Santos City), and continuous bombings in Maguindanao, so there’s really a need to constrict and limit the space for the terrorists to the maximum.”
Earlier Galvez said it would be practical to extend the martial law, especially with the upcoming plebiscite on the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in January and the midterm elections in May./PN