Military assesses whether to lift or extend martial law in Mindanao

June 30, 2017 - 5:52 PM
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Duterte checks rifle sight
President Rodrigo Duterte checks a rifle given by China as part of its urgent military assistance gratis to the Philippines during a turnover ceremony at Clark Airbase in Angeles City, Pampanga on June 28, 2017. File photo by KrizJohn Rosales/InterAksyon

Past the halfway mark for the initial 60-day period of martial law in Mindanao, an assessment is to be conducted by the military as to whether the declaration can be lifted earlier than prescribed or extended for another 60 days, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said on Friday, June 30.

In a radio interview, Padilla said a set of conditions have to be met before the military recommends the lifting or the extension of martial law.

“Doon sa assessment lalabas at makikita natin kung kinakailangan na i-lift o ipagpatuloy pa (From the assessment we will determine if martial law can be lifted or needs to be continued),” he said.

“We will submit the assessment to the President,” he added.

Padilla was responding to questions regarding President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent statements that he would defer to the recommendation of the military before moving to lift the martial law declaration.

“If they say everybody is safe, and everybody is free to roam around Mindanao and will be alive for the next 24 hours, then I would ask the military, ‘Do you think it’s time to lift the martial law?'” the president said Wednesday, June 28, during the 140th anniversary of the Philippine Chinese Charitable Association, Inc at the Manila Hotel.

“If they say not yet, or if it’s up to when, I really do not know. This means it is not my option, I will listen to them. Then I will ask for their recommendation. They would know better than me,” he added.

Padilla said the result of the military’s assessment will be made public for purposes of transparency once it has been completed.

Nevertheless, he said, they are expecting to restore the rule of law as well as the peace and order situation in Mindanao within the fixed time period, but if conditions are still deemed unfavorable, the military and the Department of National Defense would recommend for another 60 days to implement martial law.

“Regarding how long will it be, that will also be part of our study,” Padilla said.

President Duterte declared martial law covering the whole of Mindanao on May 23, the day fighting erupted between government forces and the terrorist Maute group in Marawi City.

The month-long clash had already claimed the lives of 82 government troops, 44 civilians, and 303 terrorists, according to the June 30 update from Malacañang.

Various groups had already called for the lifting of martial law, raising concerns over possible human rights violations or questioning its necessity in the battle for Marawi, even as several lawmakers, including leaders of the House of Representatives, have expressed support for its extension as long as threats of rebellion and invasion by terrorist groups remained.