Extension of Mindanao martial law ‘no longer needed’ – Defense chief

Manila – The Department of National Defense (DND) said it has recommended to President Rodrigo Duterte to no longer extend martial law in the entire island of Mindanao when the existing declaration expires on Dec. 31.  

Defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Wednesday said the martial rule is no longer needed, adding the recommendation was based on the assessment made by the military and police.

“Our security forces have determined that the purpose of implementing martial law has been attained and the prevailing conditions in the whole of Mindanao Island as well as the Islands of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-tawi have greatly improved since the defeat of the Maute fighters in Oct. 2017,” Lorenzana added.

“The Armed Forces of the Philippines believes that the Maute group and other threat groups can no longer launch a Marawi-type attack as their forces and capabilities have significantly dwindled,” he said.

Lorenzana has earlier pushed for the enactment of Republic Act 9372 or the Human Security Act of 2007 (HSA) instead of extending martial law in Mindanao.

The Philippine National Police, meanwhile, said the crime rate in Mindanao has declined and the security forces were able to control the proliferation of loose firearms in the area – but is not “closing its doors” on another extension. 

Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23, 2017, following the attacks launched by the Islamic State-linked Maute Group in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur.

It has since been in effect after Congress, in special joint sessions, voted to approve its extension thrice — from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2017; from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2018; and from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2019./PN

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