THE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) have recommended the extension of martial law in Mindanao for another year.
AFP Chief-of-Staff General Carlito Galvez Jr. said Monday, December 3, that "there is a clamor for the extension considering that terrorism is still lurking in the area."
"Ang nakikita namin, lahat ng RTOC (Regional Tactical Operations Center), LGU (local government units) and even Comelec (Commission on Elections) and other agencies have recommended for at least one year (extension)," he said in an interview with reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.
"There is really a need to constrict and limit the maneuver space of the terrorist to the maximum, we have a very weak terrorism law so with that, martial law is needed to completely defeat the terrorism,” he added.
PNP Chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said his agency has also sought the martial law extension in Mindanao.
Galvez said the recommendation will be presented to President Rodrigo Duterte through Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana during the AFP change of command on December 12 in Camp Aguinaldo.
Galvez is set to retire on December 12 as he reached the mandatory retirement age of 56.
Sought for comment, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte may be "persuaded" to extend the martial law implementation for another period of time.
"Of course, the President will always evaluate whatever recommendations that the AFP and the PNP will give him...But given the support of martial law in Mindanao, even by a Catholic [archbishop] and the citizens there, the President may be persuaded to go on to approve the recommendation. But of course, again, that is the prerogative of the President," he said.
Duterte declared a 60-day martial law in Mindanao in May 2017 following the attack staged by the Maute terror group in Marawi City.
The attack lasted for five months. It also displaced thousands of families, killed and injured hundreds of people, including soldiers and policemen, and almost flattened the entire city.
After the expiration of the 60-day martial law, the government has sought for the extension of martial law until December 31, 2017 to give way to the ongoing clearing and rehabilitation of Marawi.
In another joint session in December 2017, the Senate and House of Representatives granted Duterte’s request for the extension of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus until December 31, 2018.
Panelo said Duterte would consider the people's safety as basis for the possible extension of martial rule.
"If the threat remains and there is still an ongoing rebellion, then, constitutionally, the basis would be valid for continuation of martial law," he said.
Under Section 18, Article 7 of the 1987 Constitution, a president can declare martial law and suspend writ of habeas corpus in any part of the country for a period not exceeding 60 days, in case of invasion or rebellion.
The same provision also provides that such proclamation of martial law or suspension of the privilege of writ of habeas corpus can either be revoked or extended for a period determined by Congress through joint voting.
Some senators earlier expressed opposition to the possible martial law extension in Mindanao, saying that its current implementation has failed to counter insurgency in the region.
Asked if the Palace was confident that it could convince Congress for another martial law in Mindanao, Panelo said: "Again, the Constitution grants them the authority to decide whether or not it will extend martial law. So we'll leave it to them." (SunStar Philippines)