MANILA, Philippines — Calls to lift martial law in Mindanao following the death of rebel leaders fell on deaf ears as President Rodrigo Duterte announced that military rule in Southern Philippines won’t end until the last enemy is defeated.
“I declared Martial Law…everybody was asking: ‘When will it stop?’ It will not stop until the last terrorist is taken out,” the President said in a speech on Thursday during the concluding ceremony of the 43rd Philippine Business Conference and Expo held at the Manila Hotel.
While Omarkayam Maute of the Maute Group, Isnilon Hapilon of the Abu Sayyaf Group, and Malaysian terrorist Mahmud Ahmad had already been killed, there were still other rebels in Mindanao that have not yet been neutralized, according to Duterte.
“They are still at it,” he said.
Following the death of Maute and Hapilon and Duterte’s declaration that Marawi City had already been liberated, opposition lawmakers urged the chief executive to lift martial law in the region, saying “it is no longer justified as the actual threat of terrorism no longer exists.”
“Prolonging it has unduly affected the basic rights of citizens to assemble peaceably for redress of grievances, to travel without restrictions and harassment, and for local tourism to be revived,” added the opposition bloc at the House of Representatives composed of representatives Edcel Lagman of Albay, Teddy Baguilat Jr. of Ifugao, Raul Daza of Northern Samar, Emmanuel Billones of Capiz, Edgar Erice of Caloocan, Tom Villarin of Akbayan, and Gary Alejano of Magdalo.
European business leaders made the same appeal to Duterte.
“I would assume that the President said initially … the moment the situation is clear he will lift (martial law), so I would assume it would be the next logical step to lift martial law, paving the way for businesses to come in,” said Guenter Taus, president of the European Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines.