By Martin Sadongdong
A complete assessment and validation of the security situation in Mindanao is needed before martial law can be lifted in select areas, a spokesperson for the Department of National Defense (DND) has disclosed.
DND spokesman Arsenio Andolong issued the statement after Davao City Mayor Sarah Duterte earlier revealed that she will ask her father, President Duterte, to exempt the city from the implementation of martial law.
“The Department of National Defense takes cognizance of Mayor Duterte’s desire to lift martial law in Davao City and other areas that are relatively peaceful,” Andolong said in a statement sent to reporters late Tuesday afternoon.
“We value the wisdom and firsthand knowledge of our local executives of the prevailing security environment in their respective communities and we always take their observations and recommendations into consideration,” he added.
According to the official, they, too, wanted to lift martial law in Mindanao “as soon as possible” but added that such can only be done “after a complete assessment and validation by the security sector and local governments.”
Mayor Duterte first revealed her desire to exempt Davao City from martial law during an investment conference in the city last week. The conference was attended by some of the biggest names in the business industry.
“I will write [to] the President to exempt Davao City from the declaration of martial law in Mindanao since martial law can be localized in one or two areas. It doesn’t have to [be] the entire area of Mindanao,” she was quoted as saying.
The lady mayor credited the peace and order situation in Davao City which, she said has become “more or less stable,” as to her decision to exempt the city from being under the martial law.
She had also admitted that Davao City being placed under martial law poses some concerns for investors.
As for the Defense Department, Andolong said the lifting of martial law is being “constantly” evaluated by the DND.
He also added that they have regular consultations with other concerned security departments such as the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) regarding the matter.
Earlier, the AFP’s Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom), which has military jurisdiction over Davao City, expressed openness to Mayor Duterte’s request.
“For Davao City, there would be no problem [if martial law is lifted] but in other areas, we’ll reassess if what recommendation we can give,” said Lieutenant General Filemon Santos, EastMinCom commander.