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AFP, PNP chiefs favor selective martial law in Mindanao

The heads of the military and the police on Wednesday expressed inclination toward the partial lifting of martial law in Mindanao.

With the improved security situation in Mindanao, Armed Forces chief General Noel Clement said Wednesday the military organization would probably recommend martial law only in certain areas in southern Philippines.

During the Commission in Appointments national defense committee hearing on Clement’s appointment as military chief, Senator Risa Hontiveros asked what would be the recommendation of the AFP on the martial law in Mindanao.

Clement said they are still in the process of coming up with an assessment.

“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 only in certain areas in Mindanao. As I said, a lot of areas have improved security situation,” he said.



In a separate interview with reporters in Camp Crame, Philippine National Police (PNP) officer-in-charge Police Lieutenant General Archie Gamboa said he has given the Directorate for Operations and Directorate for Intelligence until Friday to submit a report about the security situation in Mindanao.

"Actually pinaprepare ko na ngayon sa Directorate for Intelligence and Directorate for Operations so that the Philippine National Police could come up with a concrete and definite stand on whether to extend or not and if extended, on what areas," he said.

At present, Gamboa sees that martial law in Mindanao could be implemented only in selected areas where there is still terror threat.

"But there is still an ongoing assessment on the part of the Philippine National Police, baka puwede maging selective. Depende sa assessment," Gamboa said.

"But, in almost all possibilities, we are for discontinuance except on other areas na merong assessment na malakas pa rin ang terrorism," Gamboa added.

Gamboa refused to identify the areas where there is still strong terror threats. "We will not preempt it. Gusto ko may proper evaluation, may proper supporting information and intelligence dito," he said.

On Monday, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he is not inclined to recommend extending martial law in Mindanao.

“We are waiting for the recommendation of the Armed Forces at saka ‘yung PNP, depende sa kanilang recommendation but kung ako lang, I will not anymore recommend the extension... Matagal na masyado,” Lorenzana said.

The spokesperson for the Philippine National Police, Police Brigadier General Bernard Banac, agreed with him.

“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.

Mindanao was placed under military rule in May 2017 after the ISIS-inspired Maute group attacked Marawi City. It was initially valid for 60 days. However, Duterte requested Congress to extend it thrice. — RSJ/KBK, GMA News