By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang said President Duterte will be waiting for the recommendation of the military before making any decision on whether to lift or ask the Congress to extend anew the martial law in Mindanao.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the statement as the country commemorates the second anniversary of the Marawi siege which prompted the declaration of martial law in Mindanao and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.
In his Thursday press briefing, Panelo said that the President will only decide after the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and other government forces make their recommendation on the fate of martial law in the south.
“‘Pag may rekomendasyon na yung military tsaka AFP, PNP (If the military, AFP, and the Philippine National Police already have their recommendation),” he said.
Panelo said that the top consideration for the lifting of martial law in Mindanao is still the presence of terrorist threat on the island.
“[The factors are] kung wala nang threat ang mga terrorist, tsaka yung mga enemies of the state (If there are no more terrorist threats and there are no more enemies of the state),” he said.
“Hanggang walang sinasabi ang Presidente, tuloy pa rin yun (As long as the President has not made a decision, the implementation of martial law will continue),” he added.
Marawi City had been the battleground between government forces and pro-ISIS terrorists for five months from May 23, 2017. This prompted Duterte, who was in Russia at the time, to place the entire Mindanao under martial law.
Almost a thousand terrorists, 47 civilians, and 165 government troops were killed during the war, while at least 44,000 families were displaced.
Days before the siege’s anniversary, the Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) tasked to lead the rehabilitation of the war-torn city, appealed to Marawi citizens to shun the influence of ISIS and other foreign terrorists.
TFBM chairperson Eduardo del Rosario encouraged Marawi residents to help the government and not give sanctuary to ISIS, saying the government is doing its best to help Marawi residents rebuild their lives following the war.
“Aside from the infrastructure development in Marawi City and Lanao del Sur, basically, in the whole of Mindanao, the government now is engaging the populace themselves. Telling them that we must support the government by not providing sanctuary, especially to foreign terrorists,” Del Rosario said.
According to Del Rosario, he was asked during the dialogue with Maranao residents to assure them that an incident similar to the Marawi siege will never happen again.
“I told them: it may, or may not happen. But it will not happen if the general populace will support the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police by providing information relevant in neutralizing the presence of the terrorists,” he said.
The government has set aside P67.99 billion for the city’s comprehensive rehabilitation. As of February, the Department of Finance said over P40 billion has been raised through concessional loans, as well as international grants.