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AFP chief: No need to extend martial law

MANILA, Philippines — There was no need to extend martial law anew in Mindanao since the peace and order situation in most areas has vastly improved, the Armed Forces of the Philippines chief, Gen. Noel Clement, said on Wednesday.

At his confirmation hearing, Clement told members of the Commission on Appointments that should military rule be extended beyond this year, it would be only in certain areas.

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“As we see it right now, the current security situation in Mindanao has improved a lot,” Clement said.

Mindanao has been under martial law since May 2017 after heavily armed members of the Islamic State-inspired Maute group laid siege to Marawi City for five months.

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President Rodrigo Duterte had extended martial rule in the region thrice, the last one until Dec. 31. Congress and the Supreme Court had concurred with its legality.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan said lifting martial law would be appropriate, as an extended implementation of military control was “never the intention” of the Constitution.

The Philippine National Police officer in charge, Police Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa, for his part, has tasked intelligence and operations officials with assessing the need to extend martial law in the region.

Gamboa indicated preference for an extension of martial law only in selected areas, but said this would all depend on “the assessment.”

“Actually, I ordered the directorate for intelligence and the directorate for operations to prepare [an evaluation] so that the PNP can come up with a concrete and definite stand on whether to extend [martial law] or not and if extended, in what areas and until when,” he said.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana had objected to an extension, citing its long imposition and the clamor for its lifting among local officials.

On Tuesday, the PNP spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac, said he was inclined to support moves to lift martial law in Mindanao as the island “continues to show marked stability.”

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TAGS: Mindanao martial law, Noel Clement
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