Duterte to lift martial law in Mindanao

President Rodrigo Duterte chats with an officer of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Council of the Sergeants Major during the Thanksgiving gathering he hosted at the Malacañang Palace on Tuesday, December 10. | Malacañang photo by Alfred Frias

President Rodrigo Duterte will no longer ask Congress to extend martial law in Mindanao, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Tuesday, December 10.

According to him, a security assessment showed “the weakening of the terrorist and extremist rebellion” in Mindanao through the arrest and killing of leaders of local terror groups.

“The Palace is confident in the capability of our security forces in maintaining the peace and security of Mindanao without extending martial law,” said Panelo in a Palace briefing.

“The people of Mindanao are assured that any incipient major threat in the region would be nipped in the bud,” he added.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier said he was no longer inclined to recommend extending martial law and called for a tougher anti-terrorism law instead, saying it would be a better arrangement than martial law.

Meanwhile, Drieza Lininding, chair of the Marawi-based Moro Consensus Group, said the announcement was “ long overdue but a welcome development.”

He also expressed hope that the curfew in Marawi and Lanao del Sur will also be lifted “to ensure freedom of movement and maximize it for economic recovery.”

Cotabato City Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi, on the other hand, lamented the lifting of martial law, saying it had greatly improved the city’s peace and order situation.

“We, the city officials, want martial law to be retained, but we will respect the decision of President Duterte,” Guiani-Sayadi said.

Martial law was first declared on Mindanao island in May 2017 after Islamic State-inspired armed groups, led by the Maute brothers and leaders of Abu Sayyaf, laid siege to Marawi City.

The martial law was only supposed to last for 60 days, as indicated in the Constitution, but Congress extended it three times after Duterte warned that militants continued to recruit fighters and plot attacks.

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at ritchel.mendiola@asianjournalinc.com.

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