PH police say martial law can be lifted in Mindanao

The Philippine National Police (PNP) today said they back Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s assessment that the martial law currently implemented in Mindanao can finally be lifted.

In a press conference today, PNP spokesman Bernard Banac said martial law was no longer needed because the situation in Mindanao has finally stabilized, more than two years since the army laid siege to Marawi to combat an incursion by ISIS-backed Maute rebels there.

“There is peace and order in Mindanao. We’re just waiting for the month of December so that we could make an official recommendation,” Banac said. “But so far, what we’re seeing is that martial law can be lifted from the entire island of Mindanao.”

He added that the proliferation of unregistered firearms on the island was also under control. However, he said, authorities remain on high alert in the island of Sulu, where members of the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf are reportedly hiding.

Read: Martial law in Mindanao extended until end of 2019

Defense Secretary Lorenzana said yesterday that he was not inclined to recommend to President Rodrigo Duterte that martial law be extended for a fourth time after it expires on Dec. 31, though he said he was waiting on reports from the armed forces and the PNP before coming up with a final recommendation.

Duterte issued Proclamation No. 216 in May 2017, declaring the entirety of Mindanao under martial law after Maute rebels attacked the city of Marawi in Lanao del Sur. The declaration was extended three times by the president due to ongoing unrest, a decision upheld by the Supreme Court. 

However, the decision to put the island under martial law has been criticized by activist groups, who say it has led to an increase in human rights violations committed by the authorities.

This article, PH police say martial law can be lifted in Mindanao, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!