There are sufficient military and police units to secure Mindanao against further terrorist attacks, Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said.
Lorenzana made the remark as he justified his inclination not to recommend another extension of martial law in the island, which has been extended for the third time.
These forces are sufficient to deter these terror groups from pulling off another Marawi-type assault, he added.
Mindanao is home to several terrorist groups including among others the Abu Sayyaf, Maute Group, Jemaah Islamiyah and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters. The terrorist groups led by the Maute Group that laid siege on Marawi City in 2017 were said to have been backed by the Middle East-based Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
“(The situation is now) under control. We have sufficient military and police (units) in the area to ensure that the terrorists can no longer do a Marawi-type operation. Plus, the LGUs (local government units) are clamoring for its lifting such as (Davao City) Mayor Sara (Duterte),” Lorenzana said in a message to reporters late Monday.
The DND chief added that he is not keen on another extension of martial law unless it will be recommended by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).
“Yes, personally I am not inclined to recommend its extension. Unless the AFP and PNP recommend otherwise. I will await their recommendation which I should receive before December,” Lorenzana said.
The DND chief earlier announced that a stronger Human Security Act is a more viable approach than extending martial law in Mindanao.
The House of Representatives, voting 235-28-1 in a joint session on Dec. 12, 2018, approved the extension of martial law in Mindanao for the third time until Dec. 31, 2019. The AFP recommended another year-long extension of martial law in Mindanao in its bid to neutralize terror groups still operating in the southern Philippines.
Martial law in Mindanao was declared on May 23, 2017 following attacks launched by the Maute Group in Marawi City. Lawmakers, in a special joint session in July 2017, granted the extension of martial law until Dec. 31, 2017, at the President’s request.
In December 2017, the Senate and House of Representatives, convening in a joint session, granted President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s second request for the extension of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus for a period of one year from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2018. (PNA)