President Rodrigo Duterte will consider Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s personal suggestion not to extend martial law in Mindanao when it ends on December 31, Malacañang said.
“That will be considered by the President. The President always says that he will defer to the advice and recommendation of those on the ground,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
Panelo said there is still ample time for the President to decide if he would lift martial law in the region.
Lorenzana said he is currently waiting for the recommendation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP), but if it were up to him, he would no longer recommend an extension.
In an interview, the Defense chief said instead of another extension of military rule, he preferred a stronger Human Security Act of 2007 (Republic Act 9372).
“Matagal nang masyado eh (It is already too long). (So that) we can do our job, kaya nga (that is why) especially if the Senate or the Congress can pass the Human Security Act na nabigyan ng konting ngipin yung ating (which will give more teeth to our) law enforcement, then that’s a better arrangement than martial law,” Lorenzana said.
However, Lorenzana said he will act accordingly in case the AFP and PNP decide to recommend another martial law extension.
“We’ll see, we’ll evaluate the reasons of the military and the police and act accordingly,” Lorenzana added.
Last Oct. 25, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said another extension of martial law would no longer be necessary if Congress is able to pass a measure that amends the Human Security Act of 2007.
“If the [proposed] Human Security Act, as amended, will be passed [by Congress], then we may not need to ask for any extension of martial law, we may not need this kind of martial law,” Esperon said in recent a Palace briefing.
RA 9372, which took effect on March 6, 2007, is meant to provide law enforcement and judicial authorities with the legal tools to confront terror threats in the country.
Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23, 2017 following attacks launched by the Islamic State-linked Maute Group in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur.
Congress granted Duterte’s request to extend the initial 60-day martial rule thrice to help state forces quell insurgency in the southern part of the country. (PNA)