PHILIPPINE National Police (PNP) spokesperson Brigadier General Bernard Banac on Tuesday, November 12, expressed support for Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana's position that there is no need to further extend martial law in Mindanao.
Banac said, however, that the PNP is studying the possibility of recommending extended martial law in selected areas.
Overall, Banac said loose firearms are under control and crime incidence is down in Mindanao.
The peace and order situation is improving and showing marked stability, a condition that may eventually pave the way for lifting of martial law, which is set to expire by end of 2019.
“Napakaganda na ng kalagayan ng peace and order situation sa buong kapuluan ng Mindanao at inaantay na lamang natin ang dumating ang buwan ng December para tayo ay makapagbigay na rin ng recommendation,” he said in an interview with reporters.
(The peace and order situation in Mindanao has improved a lot. We are just waiting for December to give our recommendation.)
“Sa ngayon, nakikita natin na talagang maaari na rin tanggalin na ang martial law sa buong kapuluan ng Mindanao. Nananatili lamang nakataas ang alert level doon sa bahagi ng Sulu na kung saan meron pa rin mga pinaghihinalaang presence ng mga terrorist group na Abu Sayyaf. Maliban doon ang peace and order sa buong Mindanao ay under control at ang kriminalidad doon ay napakababa na,” he added.
(As of now, we can see that martial law in the entire Mindanao may be lifted, although the alert level in Sulu will remain because of the suspected presence of the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group there.)
On Monday, Lorenzana said he was no longer keen on recommending the extension of martial law in Mindanao.
Instead, he is pushing for amendments to the Human Security Act to give more teeth to law enforcement by the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
The entire Mindanao region was placed by President Rodrigo Duterte under martial law on May 23, 2017, shortly after fighting erupted between government forces and the Maute terrorist group.
Martial law has been extended thrice. It is set to expire by the end of December 2019. (SunStar Philippines)