Galvez says gains in Mindanao 'cannot be sustained' without martial law

MANILA, Philippines – Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief General Carlito Galvez Jr said on Friday, November 16, that the military would “most likely” support another extension of martial law in Mindanao, as “positive gains” seen in the area would not last without it.

“We cannot sustain ‘yung gains na nakuha nating ngayon (the gains we have seen now). The pressure, the constriction, retainment and our operations of the checkpoints will discontinue,” Galvez said in a press conference.

Among the accomplisments expected, Galvez said, are the improvement in tourism and local economy as well as an increase in the number of surrendering terrorists and rebels.

Martial law is also needed to achieve a “complete and irreversible solution” to the conflict in Mindanao, he added.

“We want a complete resolution of the problem. Terrorism still lurks in the Mindanao area. While these are very successful in quelling the communist terrorism and also the different terrorist group in Mindanao, we want that the victory should be completed and the results will be irreversible,” he said.

Why this matters: Galvez’ statements are in line with those of Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Director General Oscar Albayalde, who also said he would support another exertion of martial law.

Both the military's and police’s recommendations  are being sought by President Rodrigo Duterte before he decides to ask for another extension from Congress.

Military rule has been in effect in the island region since May 2017. It is set to expire on December 31, 2018, after Duterte requested for two extensions, which were approved by Congress and upheld by the Supreme Court.

Galvez said recommendations were not yet final as the AFP planned to meet with the PNP next week to review assessments for a more “validated and conclusive report.”

He said a decision from the police and military may be ready by the end of November.

Extension truly needed? Galvez also noted that the country’s anti-terrorism laws were “too weak.”

“Without martial law, parang walang ngipin yung ating mga [laws] (it's like our laws have no teeth), and it can create a condition where the terrorist can exploit this” he said. (READ: Anti-terrorism law weak, Senate wants longer surveillance, detention of suspects)

The military chief added that many local government officials also favor another extension of military rule in the region.

He said doing so could also help ensure peace and security for upcoming actives like the Bangsamoro plebiscite and the upcoming 2019 national and local elections. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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