AFP confident of strong security in Mindanao after martial law lapses

Robie de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Tuesday expressed confidence that strong security is in place in Mindanao as the martial law in the region lapses on New Year’s eve.

“As martial law expires at 11:59 tonight, we are confident of an improved security climate in Mindanao that will work for the benefit of fellow Filipinos,” Marine Brigadier General Edgard Arevalo, AFP Spokesperson, said in a statement.

“Specifically, where ML [martial law] was an issue, it is expected to boost economic activities due to added investors’ confidence,” he added.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said he has decided not to extend the martial law in Mindanao following the assessment and recommendation of his security and defense officials on the situation in the region.

Mindanao has been under martial law since May 2017 after the Maute Terror group attacked Marawi City.

The martial law was initially set for 60 days, but it was extended until the end of 2017, then until the end of 2018 and until December 31 of 2019.

Arevalo said that “while the Daesh-inspired local terrorist groups continue to decline, we urge local chief executives (LCEs) and their constituents to press on and build from the gains of ML to maintain the strong security posture now in place.”

He also appealed to local government officials to “continue their robust partnership with government security agencies.”

In the event that isolated incidents of violence and lawlessness erupt in Mindanao after martial law has ended, Arevalo said Proclamation No. 55 is still in effect in the region.

“Under such declaration, President Duterte has placed the entire Mindanao under a state of national emergency on account of lawless violence,” he said.

He also assured that the military will deploy its forces to curb any form of lawless violence “to prevent them from spreading and escalating not only in Mindanao but elsewhere in the Philippines.”

“[Our] fellow Filipinos can expect that the AFP will continue to push for the amendment of the Human Security Act especially with Senate President Vicente Sotto III assuring the passage of the new Anti-Terrorism Law,” he added.

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