Duterte still studying proposed extension of martial law in Mindanao
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has not yet decided on proposals to extend martial law in Mindanao, according to Malacañang.
"The President is studying the recommendations and he is assessing the need for further extending martial law in Mindanao," said presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Sunday, December 10.
"President Duterte's paramount concern is the security of our people especially the Mindanaoans in the face of threats and the use of available means under the law to fight them," Roque, in a statement, added.
Martial law puts military commanders in charge of local government units, allowing them to prevail over elected officials. This is most pronounced in Marawi City where local officials need to military approval in order to access certain parts of the city. (READ: Marawi: Where military rules and LGUs take a backseat)
The May 23 attack led by supposed ISIS emir Isnilon Hapilon prompted Duterte to declare martial law. He and Omar Maute, the leader of allied armed group Maute Group, were among the thousands killed in the war that lasted 5 months.
Martial law is supposed to expire on December 31 but the military and the police submitted last week separate reports recommending its extension, despite the completion of military operations in Marawi City against the armed groups linked with interrnational terrorist network Islamic State (ISIS).
The military said threat remains from other ISIS-linked groups in Mindanao such as the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF). It's the group that broke away from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the dominant Muslim rebel group talking peace with the government.
The Department of National Defense (DND) is supporting the proposed extension.
"It will help us to continue our momentum in our campaign against the Daesh and their sympathizers and not to do so will allow them to regroup again. As you know there have been reports that they are recruiting already in the Lanao area," said DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong.
A group of Marawi residents have been vocal in opposing martial law, arguing that the government can exercise other powers to contain the threat in Mindanao.
Drieza Lininding said it is a "lie" to say that martial law is necessary to arrest suspected terrorists. "Republic Act 9372 allows detention and arrest wihout Judicial Warrant," he said.
The declaration of martial law was earlier challenged at the Supreme Court, but the high court decided in favor of the government. – Rappler.com