Ground commanders back martial law
TOP ground military commanders in Mindanao will unanimously recommend to President Rodrigo Duterte to extend martial law in the region by another year, a reliable source in the Armed Forces of the Philippines told Manila Standard on Thursday.
“The recommendations from the ground commanders went straight to the Chief of Staff of the AFP. Almost all ground commanders are in need of martial law at this time to finish off their problems there when it comes to terrorism,” the source said, requesting anonymity.
The recommendations, the Standard source added, came from security experts familiar with the current situation in Mindanao before and after the attack on Marawi City sparked by the combined Islamic State-inspired Abu Sayyaf Group and Maute Group terrorists last May 23.
However, the source downplayed the expansion of martial law to the rest of the country, saying only Mindanao “would be needing such tool to suppress terrorism and other similar threats.”
On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana revealed, without providing details, that his office had already submitted a recommendation to Malacañang related to extending martial law in the region.
The one-year extension of martial rule in Mindanao, the commanders cited in their proposal, would enable “vital mechanisms” such as the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, the source added.
“That is the important component, because we cannot arrest the supporters and financiers of the IS-inspired terrorists without martial law extension,” the source said.
The military has been extensively monitoring a potential tactical alliance between IS terrorists and the communist New People’s Army, which could aggravate the security environment in Mindanao in case lawless elements launch hostile acts against the government.
President Duterte has just ordered that the NPA and its political arm, the Communist Party of the Philippines, be declared terrorists as well, citing the Human Security Act.
Last month, the Islamic State has been monitored recruiting young fighters in Mindano to boost their chances of avenging the deaths of their forces who besieged Marawi but ultimately fell following the military’s five-month campaign to liberate the city.
“Hopefully, the extension of martial law for one year will be the end of these terror groups. We are hoping it would end with this one,” the source said.