If Lorenzana had his way, martial law in Mindanao may end soon
MANILA, Philippines — Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana is not in favor of extending the declaration of martial law in Mindanao, which will expire on December 31.
Lorenzana, however, said he would wait for the recommendation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police before he decides.
“If it only depended on me, I will not recommend the extension anymore, it has been too long,” Lorenzana told reporters in mixed Filipino and English, according to a report from News5.
President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao in May 2017 following an encounter between government troops and the Maute group in Marawi City.
The declaration has since been extended upon approval by both chambers of Congress.
The Defense chief said the government can do its job without retaining martial law in Mindanao.
“We can do our job especially if the Senate or Congress can pass the Human Security Act para to strengthen our law enforcement. That’s a better arrangement than the martial law,” he said.
In July, President Rodrigo Duterte said he would not hesitate to extend the declaration again if security officials will recommend it.
The president still considers the region a security concern and said he would assess the security situation in Mindanao.
“If the local government unit, the governors, mayors and even the congressmen would find that it could be in the best interest of the Filipinos in Mindanao, I would not hesitate to say yes,” Duterte said in July.
A progressive group had called for the lifting of martial law in Mindanao, pointing out that the recommendation of the military to implement “selective” martial rule in the region was an admission of its lack of basis.
“Martial law in Mindanao is useless as it could not even prevent heinous crimes in the major island. It is just an instrument against legal democratic activists, it has undermined democracy and human rights of the people,” former Rep. Ariel Casilao (Anakpawis Party-list) said last month. — Patricia Lourdes Viray