Gov’t to ‘wipe out’ Abu Sayyaf in one year, officials tell senators
MANILA, Philippines — In seeking to extend martial law in Mindanao, government security advisers on Monday vowed to “wipe out” the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and reduce the capability of the New People’s Army (NPA) within one year.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto disclosed this after senators held a closed-door meeting with security officials led by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, and AFP chief of staff Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. at the Senate.
On his security officials’ advice, President Rodrigo Durterte asked Congress to extend martial law in Mindanao until December 31, 2019.
“What is appealing, sabi nila (if they extend martial law by one year), they can wipe out the Abu Sayyaf and reduce the capability of the NPA. That seems to be appealing,” Recto told reporters after the meeting.
“Wipe out ‘yung Abu Sayyaf at least ‘yung Sulu, that’s the bigger threat and then minimal na ‘yung strength ng CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army),” he added.
The NPA, according to the military, is “strongest” in Mindanao,” Recto said.
“’Pag napahina mo ng husto ‘yun lahat ng NPA sa Luzon at Visayas, huhulog din,” the senator pointed out.
If the one-year extension is granted by Congress, Recto said the security officials “seemed” to promise they would not ask for another extension again.
“Ito na lang ang last extension,” Recto said.
But the senator raised one concern: Can the present Congress extend martial law beyond its term?
“Di ba this Congress’ term is until June 30? So six months, if at all,” he pointed out.
“And then maybe the next Congress humingi sila ng extension for six months,” he added.
Recto said he and Senator Koko Pimentel believe martial law in Mindanao can be extended for only six months.
But since the President’s request would be decided in a joint session with the House of Representatives, Recto said Congress might still grant the one-year extension being sought by the President. /kga
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