MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The chiefs of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) are “inclined” to recommend an extension of the imposition of martial law in Mindanao as of Tuesday, July 4.
PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa made the statement in a press briefing in Camp Crame on Tuesday, ahead of the Supreme Court ruling on petitions against martial law in Mindanao. (LOOK: Duterte proclamation declaring martial law in Mindanao)
“Nag-usap kami ni [AFP] chief General [Eduardo] Año na ‘pag tanungin kami ni presidente, what would be our recommendation? Kung hindi pa ito matapos, extend natin. As of now,” Dela Rosa said.
(General Año and I talked about what we would say if the President asks for our recommendation. If this isn’t over, we should extend martial law. As of now.)
On Monday, July 3, President Rodrigo Duterte gathered his Cabinet and other top officials for a meeting at the Palace. Dela Rosa said the ongoing siege in Marawi City – staged by local terror groups who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS) – was among the topics discussed.
“We are inclined to recommend to the President na kung puwede, the way things are going ngayon…hindi pa totally na-stabilize ‘yung situation, kung puwede sana i-extend para pati sa rehabilitation phase. Mahirap mag panday-panday doon kung may putok na nangyayari,” added Dela Rosa.
(We are inclined to recommend to the President that if possible, with the way things are going….the situation has not totally stabilized, if possible, martial law can be extended to include the rehabilitation phase. It’s hard to undertake repairs there if there are ongoing clashes.)
The PNP chief, however, clarified that “things may vary as days go by,” referring to their recommendation.
Año told Rappler martial law is necessary as long as the situation in Marawi is not resolved.
“It depends on the developments in the coming days. Right now the Marawi rebellion has not been resolved yet, hence martial law is still necessary,” Año said in a text message.
Duterte had repeatedly said that the duration of martial law in Mindanao would depend on the recommendation of the military and police chiefs, and that it may even be lifted ahead of the 60-day period if the situation has already stabilized.
Under the Constitution, martial law only lasts for 60 days, or until July 22 in this case, unless Duterte gets congressional approval for its extension. Both houses of Congress are dominated by Duterte allies.
On May 23, members of the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups tried to take over Marawi City, after police and military attempted to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, the supposed “emir” of ISIS in the Philippines.
Hours after the first clashes happened, Duterte placed the entire Mindanao island under martial law. He also suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in the island.
The military and police have been battling the local terrorists for the last 43 days. – with a report from Carmela Fonbuena/Rappler.com