MANILA, Philippines – Based on Mindanao’s current security situation, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said the 5-year extension of martial law, as suggested by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, may be “too long.”
“Actually, 5 years may be too long for the moment,” said AFP Spokesman Brigadier General Restituto Padilla on Monday, July 10, during a Palace news briefing.
Padilla clarified that he does not know what information Alvarez may have had in order to float such a proposal. He added that the military can only make recommendations but the final decision rests on political leaders like Alvarez.
“First, we don’t know what basis our Speaker has for saying that, because martial law is a political decision. DND (Department of National Defense) or AFP will only recommend but the eventual decision will come from our leadership with wider range of basis for their decision,” he said.
The military’s recommendation on how long martial law should last will be based on whether or not it has accomplished orders given to troops when martial law was proclaimed.
“Our primary basis is whether or not we have accomplished the operational directives given to us at the very beginning of martial law,” said Padilla.
These objectives include the arrest of around 300 individuals listed in martial law arrest orders. So far, only over 60 persons have been arrested.
Another is to re-establish the “rule of law” in Marawi City, ground zero of fighting between Muslim extremists and government troops.
Another basis for the AFP’s recommendation on martial law is whether or not terror groups in Mindanao are still capable of launching attacks similar to the Marawi siege.
The recommendation will be submitted to Defense Secretary and martial law administrator Delfin Lorenzana in a “few days.” Lorenzana will then endorse the document to President Rodrigo Duterte who will make the decision on whether to lift martial law or ask Congress for its extension.
Duterte has said he will not lift martial law before he delivers his second State of the Nation Address on July 24. Martial law, with its 60-day period of validity, is set to lapse by July 22.
The President has said he will base his call on martial law on inputs from the military and police.
Alvarez, during an interview with the Inquirer on Saturday, July 8, said he would “push for” an extension of martial law in Mindanao until 2022, Duterte’s last year in power.
“If I can convince my colleagues, I will push for an extension until 2022, because two months is too short. Five months or one year or two years is too short,” Alvarez said. – Rappler.com