Mindanao checkpoints to stay even with ML lifted
MANILA, Philippines — The Armed Forces of the Philippines is not dismantling the checkpoints set up in Mindanao even after the lifting of martial law at the end of the year, its spokesperson said on Wednesday.
Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said the military was not “putting [its] guard down” and would retain the checkpoints as part of precautionary measures to prevent terrorist groups from regaining a foothold in the island.
“[D]efinitely checkpoints are going to continue; after all even without martial law, the checkpoints are there. However, since the situation has already improved in Mindanao … it [can] be expected that there will be lesser moves from terrorists. But we are not putting our guard down,” Arevalo said.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday announced that he was no longer extending the two-year-old martial rule in Mindanao, citing improved security conditions.
Government forces, he said, have succeeded in “weakening terrorism and extremist rebellion” in the area.Mr. Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao after Islamic State-inspired groups, led by the Maute brothers and leaders of Abu Sayyaf, occupied Marawi City in May 2017.
The martial law declaration was extended twice and was due to expire on Dec. 31.
The AFP, which cited “an improved security climate in Mindanao” for nixing a martial law extension, said it was hopeful that lifting martial rule in the island would usher in more economic activities, Arevalo said.
He said the AFP believed terror groups in Mindanao have weakened with the “defeat” of the Daulah Islamiyah-inspired group led by the Maute brothers in Marawi.
The other Daesh-inspired groups, among them the Abu Toraype group of the splinter group of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters have also been put in check, Arevalo said.
The AFP spokesperson said the military had tagged eight foreign terrorists and about 60 local terror suspects, whose movements were being monitored by government forces.
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