Esperon: Martial law extension is last resort, unless Mindanaoans ask for it

Rambo Talabong
The national security adviser wants a comprehensive study on the sentiment of Mindanaoans on martial law extension and state of security to be completed first

ADVISING DUTERTE. National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. File photo by Manman Dejeto/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Extending martial law remains to be the last resort in stopping threats in Mindanao, unless Mindanaoans and security forces of the government recommend it.

National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr took this position on the possible 3rd extension of martial law in the southern island during a press conference at the Malacañang Golf Clubhouse on Thursday, November 8.

“We still would like to think that the extension of martial law should be on a last-resort basis…. It is an instrument for us that will be considered as a last resort, but if it is needed, as dictated by the situation and the desire of the people, then so be it. Susundin natin ‘yun (We will follow that),” Esperon said.

Military rule has been in effect in Mindanao since local terrorists tried to occupy Marawi City in May 2017. Since then it has been extended twice, with the requisite congressional approval. If not extended again, it will lapse on December 31.

Esperon has not yet recommended an extension, unlike Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año and Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Oscar Albayalde. The national security adviser said he wants a comprehensive study on the sentiment of Mindanaoans on martial law extension and state of security to be completed first.

Esperon, who was also a presidential adviser on the peace process, disclosed that, from what he had been hearing, “majority of Mindanaoans” favor another extension.

President Rodrigo Duterte is awaiting the joint recommendation of the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines on the matter.

They have been given the entire November to survey Mindanaoans on their sentiments, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier announced.

Año, meanwhile, said in an earlier interview that Duterte would join a meeting of local officials from Mindanao at the end of November to hear their recommendation face-to-face.

Once all of this is done, the President will decide. –

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.