MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police (PNP) wants some parts of Mindanao to remain under martial law.
PNP officer-in-charge Lt. Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa yesterday said that while they agree with Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana for martial law to be lifted in Mindanao, it should be maintained in some areas under security threat.
“In almost all possibilities, we are for discontinuance except in some areas where there is an assessment of the strong threat of terrorism,” Gamboa said.
Gamboa would not identify the areas as he has yet to receive the threat assessment reports. He gave the PNP’s intelligence and operation units until Friday to come up with their respective reports which he will present to a command conference with the national security cluster.
The places considered as bailiwicks of terrorist groups are the provinces of Basilan and Sulu, and some parts of Central Mindanao.
Lorenzana on Monday said he is not keen on further extending martial law in Mindanao for another year.
Gamboa said they will come up with the areas that could remain under martial law, but added it will no longer be for a year.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Noel Clement said he was inclined to favor the partial lifting of martial law in Mindanao.
Clement was asked by Sen. Risa Hontiveros on his stance on martial law in Mindanao that expires at yearend, at his confirmation hearing before the Commission on Appointments (CA) committee on national defense and security.
He said the security situation in Mindanao has improved and the AFP would probably recommend the extension of martial law only in certain areas.
“But as we see it right now, the current security situation in Mindanao has improved a lot. If we will be asked, it might probably be only in certain areas in Mindanao. As I said, a lot of areas have improved in their security situation,” Clement told the CA panel.
On the other hand, Basilan Gov. Hajiman Saliman-Hataman said his province no longer needs to remain under martial law, saying the security situation has been under control.
Hataman said the Abu Sayyaf strength has been degraded and isolated in the jungle, its members either decimated or had long surrendered.
Hataman stressed that terrorism, which is part of the component in the declaration of martial law, has been addressed in the province.
“It has been a long period that we have not experienced bombing, kidnapping and even violent killing. This is beside that we started the all-out war against the Abu Sayyaf in 2016 even before the declaration of martial law,” Hataman said.
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Carlito Galvez earlier supported the lifting of martial law in some areas, including Basilan.
Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), also some wanted areas to remain under martial law.
Sobejana said he will be submitting his recommendation to the Department of National Defense the areas under his area of operations that should remain under martial law.
The entire Mindanao region was placed under martial law following the siege of Marawi City from May to October 2017. The third extension will expire on Dec. 31 this year. – With Paolo Romero, Roel Pareño
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