Palace: Duterte will consider Lorenzana’s comment vs extending Mindanao martial law

Palace: Duterte will consider Lorenzana�s comment vs extending Mindanao martial law
This June 26, 2019 photo shows President Rodrigo Duterte chatting with Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on the sidelines of the 122nd Presidential Security Group anniversary.
Presidential Photo / Yancy Lim

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Monday said President Rodrigo Duterte will consider the statement of Defense chief Delfin Lorenzana that he is not inclined to recommend extending martial law in Mindanao for the fourth time.

Lorenzana said he is personally not keen on recommending another extension of martial law in the southern Philippines, saying it has been implemented for “too long.”

The Defense secretary, however, said he would wait for the recommendation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police before he decides.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the Defense secretary’s comment “will be considered by the president.”

“The president always says that he will defer to the advice or recommendation of those on the ground,” Panelo added.

Martial law since May 2017

Mindanao has been under martial law since May 2017, following an encounter between government troops and the Maute terror group in Marawi City. Although initially set for 60 days, the declaration of martial law has since been extended upon approval by both chambers of Congress.

The entire country remains in a state of national emergency declared in September 2016 in response to a bombing at a Davao City night market that killed at least 15 people.

"Based on government intelligence reports, there exist credible threats of further terror attacks and other similar acts of violence by lawless elements in other parts of the country, including metropolitan areas," Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said in Proclamation No. 55.

Parts of Mindanao, particularly in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao had been militarized even martial law was declared there.

In July, Duterte said he would not hesitate to extend the declaration again if security officials will recommend it.

Lorenzana said that Congress’ amendment of the Human Security Act of 2007 is a “better arrangement” than martial law. Human rights groups like Karapatan, however, fear that the amended HSA will bring “deliberate and infringement of the people’s civil and political rights.

Senate Bill 1083 remains pending on second reading while its counterpart at the House of Representatives remain pending with the committee on public order and safety. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

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