MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is awaiting the recommendation of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on seeking another extension of martial law in Mindanao, which is set to lapse by the end of the year.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana made the statement at a news briefing in Camp Aguinaldo on Wednesday, October 31, when asked if Duterte and his Cabinet had talked about a possible third extension of martial law in Mindanao.
Lorenzana said the matter was discussed at the Cabinet security cluster level.
"We discussed martial law [in Mindanao], pero (but) no decisions have been made yet. The President will await the recommendations from the AFP and the PNP," the defense chief said.
He said that for the month of November, the military and the police will go around Mindanao to "ask the people there to, ask the local government, the people, the businesses, the church what their feeling is in the extension of lifting of martial law."
After the consultations, the PNP and AFP will submit separate recommendations to the President for his consideration.
"There may be some forces that would try to derail the plebiscite," Lorenzana said.
Lorenzana earlier said in a House of Representatives budget briefing that Mindanaoans had expressed their preference to extend martial law.
"'Yun 'yung mga problemang nakikita naming lalabas, posibleng lalabas (Those are the problems that we expect to come out), but we will see we will see what we can find on the ground," Lorenzana said.
Lorenzana did not mention specific groups behind the possible threats.
Duterte first declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23, 2017, following the siege on Marawi it, which was supposed to lapse in July that year. The President asked Congress for a 5-month extension, or until December 2017, then asked for a year-long extension until end-December 2018. Both requests were granted.
When Duterte asked for an extension for the first time in 2017, he said it was for the "total eradication of Daesh-inspired Da'awatul Islamiyah Waliyatul Masriq, other like-minded Local/Foreign Terrorist Groups and Armed Lawless Groups, and the communist terrorists and their coddlers, supporters, and financiers." – Rappler.com
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.