Martial law extension needed to address continuing armed threats

Martial law extension needed to address continuing armed threats – AFP

The political oppositionists in the 24-member Senate made their stand known following a recommendation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police (PNP) that martial law be extended in the whole of Mindanao for one year.

Nevertheless, "there is a recommendation to similarly support the recommendation of the Philippine National Police", Padilla said, referring to the police recommendation for a yearlong extension, which ha been endorsed by acting Interior Secretary Catalino Cuy.

Padilla said, however, that he was "not privy" to other details as the military's recommendation was "separate and different from the recommendation of the police".

President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23, as fighting broke between state forces and Islamic State-inspired Maute militants in Marawi City.

When the initial military rule lapsed after 60 days, the President ordered its extension until December 31, citing the continued activities of IS supporters and sympathizers in several areas in Mindanao.

Padilla, however, said the threat from the Abu Sayyaf had been significantly reduced that there have been no recent kidnappings of foreign sailors from vessels passing through the country's southern waters.

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The five-month war in Marawi which ended in October between government troops and the Maute terror group turned homes and buildings into rubble and displaced over 300,000 residents.

"Those who survived the siege still remain at large and are attempting to recover by recruiting other members of the society, particularly the vulnerable sector of our population and they are the students, women, and the relatives of those who lost their lives in the fight", Padilla said.

The "increasing" threat of violence from the communist New People's Army also prompted the recommendation to extend martial law, he said.

The NPA, along with its mother organization Communist Party of the Philippines, were recently declared by Duterte as a terrorist organization.

Of the 617 NPA operations recorded over the year, Padilla said, 382 happened in Eastern Mindanao, where Duterte's hometown Davao City is located.

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