PNP still identifying areas for martial law extension

Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo

PHILIPPINE National Police (PNP) officer-in-charge Lieutenant General Archie Gamboa said on Wednesday, November 13, that they were still studying which areas in Mindanao would need to be placed further under martial law.

He confirmed that the PNP is inclined to recommend against another extension, but said martial law may be extended in selected areas to curb terrorism.

“There is still an ongoing assessment on the part of the PNP. Baka puwede maging selective. In almost all possibilities, we are for the discontinuance except in other areas na merong assessment na malakas pa rin ang terrorism," he said in an interview with reporters.

Among the usual areas of concern in Mindanao are Basilan and Sulu due to the presence of local terrorist groups that continue to threaten the peace and order situation.

Gamboa said the Directorate of Intelligence (DI), which was tasked to conduct the assessment, is expected to submit its report on Friday, November 15, 2019.

The DI’s report will be the basis of PNP's recommendation on whether to extend martial law or not, he added.

Martial law was imposed in Mindanao on May 23, 2017, shortly after fighting erupted in Marawi City between government forces and the Maute terrorists.

Congress has extended it thrice, on the request of President Rodrigo Duterte. It is set to expire by the end of 2019.

Gamboa said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) may have a different assessment.

He said it will be National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. who will decide and recommend to the President what action.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier expressed his preference not to further extend martial law.

For his part, AFP chief of staff General Noel Clement agreed with Gamboa’s statement that only selected areas will remain under martial law.

On Tuesday, PNP spokesperson, Brigadier General Bernard Banac, said the crime rate in Mindanao is declining and security forces are able to control the proliferation of loose firearms in the area.

Banac said the PNP will submit its recommendation on the matter to the Esperon in December. (SunStar Philippines)