AFP confirms recommending extension of martial law in Mindanao due to remaining security threat
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) confirmed on Friday that it recommended the extension of martial law in Mindanao beyond December 31.
In a press briefing in Malacanang, Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr. said the recommendation, which was forwarded to President Rodrigo Duterte through Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, was made due to the terrorist threat that continues to prevail in southern Philippines.
Padilla could not divulge the period of extension of martial law that the AFP recommended, although the Philippine National Police earlier said it proposed for an extension of another year.
"Now, in the island of Mindanao, as you are all well aware of, the most significant that you have been following has been the Daulah Islamiyah, where the Maute, the ASG (Abu Sayyaf Group) and other terrorist organizations are part of and they were the ones responsible for the siege in Marawi," he said.
"Now, they still remain to be a threat, although they have significantly been degraded in terms of capability and manpower, those who survived that siege still remain at large," Padilla said.
He said the remnants were attempting to recover by recruiting other members of the society, particularly the vulnerable sector of the population, such as students, children, women and relatives of those who lost their lives in the fight.
"So they are attempting to do that and the primary means for which they are doing that is through enticements of cash rewards and the like," Padilla said.
Padilla said the terrorist group has no identified leader.
"So if you are talking about that group, there is no clear evidence that they have a new leader," he said.
The terrorist group that attacked Marawi was headed by the Maute brothers and Isnilon Hapilon, said to be the anointed Islamic State leader in Southeast Asian. However, they were killed in the military operations in Marawi.
Padilla said the security forces want to prevent this group to "come back again with vengeance."
Government troops are also facing the lawless group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Maguindanao, Lanao and Cotabato areas, and the communist New People's Army, which was recently declared as a terrorist organization by the President, he said.
"Also, increasing violence initiated by the left is something to watch out for and something that we have to prepare for and confront. That’s part of the reason why martial law may be needed to cover other areas where potential terrorists are in hiding," he added.
Duterte also terminated the peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA-National Democratic Front.
Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23 for 60 days shortly after the IS-inspired Maute terrorists attacked Marawi. With the approval of Congress, the imposition of martial law was extended until December 31 this year. Celerina Monte/DMS