Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Monday he was not inclined to recommend extending martial law in Mindanao, a security measure aimed at quelling the terrorism in the region, because it had already been “too long.”
He said unless the military and the Philippine National Police thought otherwise, he would not recommend the extension of martial rule in Mindanao.
“If it were up to me I would not recommend the extension of [martial law in Mindanao],” Lorenzana said.
Malacañang said President Rodrigo Duterte would consider Lorenzana’s suggestion not to extend martial law in Mindanao, which has been in place since 2017.
“That will be considered by the President. He always listens to the recommendations on the ground,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo told reporters.
Meanwhile, military pursuit operations are underway against a band of Islamic State-linked rebels who clashed with government troops on Saturday in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, that left a government soldier and two rebels killed.
Two soldiers of the Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion were also injured in the morning skirmishes near Tukanalipao River, site of the infamous 2015 Mamasapano encounter.
Maj. Arvin John Encinas, speaking for the Western Mindanao Command, said the firefight erupted at 9 a.m. while soldiers of the Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion were conducting foot patrols near the Tukanalipao River in the area.
Lorenzana said the finality of his position on martial law would solely depend on the extensive evaluation of both the military and the PNP as regards the security situation in Mindanao.
“We are waiting for the recommendation of the Armed Forces and the PNP, “but if it were up to me I would not recommend an extension,” Lorenzana said.
He said two years of martial law in the region was already too long, and the security sector had shifted its focus in the wake of the security debacle in Marawi City that left a thousand people dead, mostly terrorists.
Instead, Lorenzana is pitching for the passage of the human security act in Congress that would strengthen law enforcement agencies.
“If the Senate or the Congress can pass the human security act that would give “more teeth” to our law enforcement, then that’s a better arrangement than martial law,” he said. With MJ Blancaflor and PNA