DEFENSE Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Monday, November 11, he is no longer inclined to support another extension of martial law in Mindanao.
He said he was waiting for the recommendations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).
“We are waiting for the recommendation of the Armed Forces at saka ‘yung PNP, depende sa kanilang recommendation but kung ako lang, I will not anymore recommend the extension. Matagal na masyado e,” Lorenzana said in an interview with reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.
(It depends on the recommendations of the Armed Forces and PNP. But if it were up to me, I will no longer recommend an extension. This has gone on too long.)
Instead of martial law, Lorenzana said it is better for Congress to amend the Human Security Act to give more teeth to law enforcement by both the police and military.
For his part, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Brigadier General Edgard Arevalo expressed support for Lorenzana's position.
“Siyempre, the AFP is a bureau under the Department of National Defense. Kung ‘yan ang paninindigan ng ating Secretary, we are always supportive of his decision. But we are sure that the Secretary has taken into account many variables para magkaroon siya ng ganoong position,” he said.
(The AFP is a bureau under the Department of National Defense. If that is our Secretary's stand, w support his decision. We are sure that he has taken all variables into account to come up with such a position.)
He said the AFP is still consulting ground commanders as well as local government officials to determine whether there is still a need for martial law in Mindanao.
The final decision, however, still lies with President Rodrigo Duterte.
Duterte placed the entire Mindanao region under martial law on May 23, 2017, a few hours after fighting broke out between government troops and the Maute Group militants.
The martial law has been extended thrice. It is set to expire by end of 2019. (SunStar Philippines)