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Martial law in Mindanao can be lifted, PNP spox says

The spokesperson for the Philippine National Police (PNP) on Tuesday agreed with the remark of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana that martial law in Mindanao should no longer be extended.

Speaking to reporters in Camp Crame, Police Brigadier General Bernard Banac said the peace and order situation in southern Philippines is now orderly.

"Napakaganda na ng peace and order situation sa buong kapuluan ng Mindanao. Ang hinihintay na lamang natin ay dumating ang buwan ng Disyembre para tayo'y makapagbigay na rin ng opisyal na rekomendasyon," Banac said.

"Sa ngayon, nakikita natin na maaari na rin talagang tanggalin ang martial law sa buong kapuluan ng Mindanao," Banac added.

Banac said the crime rate in Mindanao was already improving and that security forces are already controlling the proliferation of loose firearms in the area.

He, however, said the alert level in some areas such as Sulu should still be heightened due to the presence of local terror groups.

"Mananatili lamang mataas ang alert level doon sa bahagi ng Sulu na kung saan mayroon pa ring pinaghihinalaang presensya ng terrorist group na Abu Sayyaf," Banac said.

Asked whether selected martial law in Mindanao is possible, Banac said the security cluster is still discussing the matter.

Tougher Human Security Act

On Monday, Lorenzana said he is not inclined to recommend extending martial law in Mindanao, adding that it would be better if the Congress will pass a tougher Human Security Act for law enforcement.

The Defense chief, however, said he would still wait for the recommendation of the police and the military regarding the matter.

Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman Brigadier General Edgard Arevalo said the military was still conducting consultations among local commanders and local government officials on whether there is a need to extend martial law in the region.

For his part, Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) chief Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana said the security situation in his area of responsibility is already manageable.

"I should say na we are on top of the situation... the security situation is manageable especially now na very supportive na 'yung ating partners sa civil government," Sobejana said.

Sobejana said the WestMinCom respects the wisdom of Lorenzana, adding that they will submit their assessment on the security in the area in December.

In May 2017, the whole Mindanao was placed under military rule after the ISIS-inspired Maute group attacked and brought hostilities in Marawi City.

It was initially valid for 60 days; but President Rodrigo Duterte requested Congress to extend it thrice.

Martial law in Mindanao is expected to end on December 31,  2019. — RSJ, GMA News