Military recommends extension of martial law in Mindanao

Martial law extension needed to address continuing armed threats – AFP

Martial law extension needed to address continuing armed threats – AFP

THE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) recommended the extension of martial law in the entire Mindanao because of the "many threats" still facing the region, its spokesman said on Friday. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr. said in a press briefing in Malacanang.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) wants the President to impose one more year of military rule in the south.

Padilla said, however, that he was "not privy" to other details as the military's recommendation was "separate and different from the recommendation of the police".

President Rodrigo Duerte declared Mindanao under martial law on May 23, shortly after fighting broke out between government forces and extremist gunmen in Marawi City.

The military still faces "significant violent activities" from groups such as the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Maguindanao, Lanao provinces, and Cotabato, as well as the Abu Sayyaf Group in Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi, Padilla told reporters.

When the 60-day period the Constitution sets for the initial declaration lapsed, Duterte sought and was granted an extension by Congress until the end of the year.

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Padilla, however, said the threat from the Abu Sayyaf had been significantly reduced that there have been no recent kidnappings of foreign sailors from vessels passing through the country's southern waters.

"After the pronounced liberation of Marawi and the announced focus on rehabilitation and trade, what will be the role of the people of Marawi in the planning and rehabilitation of their city?"

After the retaking of Marawi last October, Duterte said he would await recommendation from the AFP and the PNP so that he could decide whether or not to keep Mindanao under martial law.

The NPA, along with its mother organization Communist Party of the Philippines, were recently declared by Duterte as a terrorist organization.

He also accused the communists of insincerity in seeking peace, noting a "tremendous increase" of 65 percent in rebel attacks from January to November 30 in Eastern and Western Mindanao.

Of the 617 NPA operations recorded over the year, Padilla said, 382 happened in Eastern Mindanao, where Duterte's hometown Davao City is located.

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