By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte will take into consideration the recommendation of the country’s top security and defense officials before making a decision on whether or not to seek another extension of martial law in Mindanao, Malacañang said Monday.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the pronouncement of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana against a martial law extension would also be considered by the President.
“That will be considered by the President. The President always say he will defer to the advice or recommendation of those on the ground,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said during a Palace press briefing.
Lorenzana earlier said he would no longer recommend another extension of martial law in the south. The defense chief argued that the proclamation, first imposed following the deadly terror siege in Marawi City in March 2017, has been in place for too long, adding that government forces could do their job without it.
Last August, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles hinted that martial law declaration in Mindanao may be lifted once a stronger anti-terror law is passed by Congress. He said Cabinet security cluster acknowledged that a stronger anti-terror law would no longer necessitate the extension of martial law.
He noted that the administration backs the amendments to Republic Act No. 9372 or the Human Security Act of 2007 to better address security concerns. The amendments included allowing a longer period for the detention and wiretapping of terror suspects.
Martial law has remained in effect in Mindanao since the Marawi City siege by local terror elements in 2017. The martial law declaration, imposed by the President, has been extended until the end of the year in a bid to keep peace and security in the south.