Esperon favors extension of martial law in Mindanao
MANILA, Philippines – National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr said he personally favored the extension of martial law in Mindanao and would recommend it to President Rodrigo Duterte, if needed.
In an interview with reporters at the Manila port on Wednesday, October 25, Esperon said martial law in Mindanao was still needed to address other terror threats in the region. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana had declared that the end of military operations in Marawi on Monday, October 23.
"Well, we have it (martial law in Mindanao) up to December the 31st but personally I would like it to stay in place," said Esperon, responding to reporters' questions.
When asked in another Malacañang event if he meant he personally prefered an extension and would recommend it to President Rodrigo Duterte, he said, "Yes...Why not? If the obtaining conditions so necessitate."
In Esperon's interview at the Manila port, he said martial law may still be needed beyond December 31 to help the military quell other terror groups which have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS).
"Because while the combat operations are over, let us remember that there are probable and possible elements that can still carry on the affiliation to ISIS," he said.
Esperon mentioned groups like Abu Sayyaf and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
The President said as much on Tuesday, October 24, when he called on the Philippine Air Force to prepare for more operations against terror threats in Mindanao.
Keeping martial law in Mindanao would also "benefit" the reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts in devastated Marawi, said Esperon.
Duterte is expected to consult with the military, police, and defense officials on when to lift martial law.
Duterte declared a 60-day martial law period when the Marawi conflict erupted on May 23. Congress later granted his request to extend martial rule in the region until December 31. (TIMELINE: Marawi clashes prompt martial law in all of Mindanao)
In the final weeks of the Marawi crisis, Duterte said he would lift martial law when clearing operations in the Mindanao city were over. – Rappler.com