Military to assess Mindanao situation, security threats
The Armed Forces of the Philippines will recommend whether to lift or extend martial law in Mindanao after a “thorough assessment,” a spokesperson for the military said on Sunday.
If its decision is to recommend an extension, however, it has to justify it to Congress, which must approve the extension, said Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon.
“The AFP is doing its best to meet its campaign targets for the end of the year, especially that which is aimed at addressing the threat posed by terror networks still in Mindanao,” Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla, the military spokesperson, told reporters in a text message.
“Following a thorough assessment, we will make the necessary recommendations to the Commander in Chief through the security cluster. Our main objective is to degrade or totally eliminate the ability of terrorists and their networks so that they no longer pose as serious threats to our national security,” Padilla said.
Padilla added that this was among the “priority concerns” of Lt. Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero, who assumed office as AFP chief of staff in October.
Guerrero will retire in December, when he turns 56 years old, the mandatory age of retirement in the military.
But President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to extend Guerrero’s term.
Mr. Duterte imposed martial law in Mindanao after local terrorists loyal to the Islamic State jihadist group in the Middle East laid siege to Marawi City on May 23.
If the military decides to recommend the extension of martial law in Mindanao, it should justify it to Congress, Drilon said on Sunday.
“Let us decide on the basis of the evidence presented because [the military] had said the problem [in Marawi] had been addressed and now there is a call for an extension [of the declaration] again,” Drilon said in a radio inteview.
Drilon said Congress should again be asked to authorize an extension of martial law in Mindanao.
In a statement, he also said talk of a possible extension would only create fear among residents of Mindanao, especially the people of Marawi, who were still recovering from five months of fighting between government forces and terrorists.
Drilon was among four senators who voted against an extension of martial law in Mindanao in July.