Malacañang Palace said on Wednesday that President Rodrigo Duterte waits for the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) full report and security assessment before deciding on whether to ask the Congress to extend martial law in Mindanao.
Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said: “The President has repeatedly stressed that the Philippines abides by the rule of law, and extending martial law would be based solely on the assessment and recommendation of the military and the police.”
The President himself said that he will decide on whether to extend the 60-day military rule in Mindanao based on the two officials’ (AFP and PNP) reports.
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald ‘Bato’ dela Rosa has already recommended an extension, although not five years, but only for another 60 days.
So the next step for the extension of Martial Law in Mindanao now depends on the AFP.
Abella said that the reports from Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff Gen. Eduardo Año on the situation in Marawi and Mindanao would have to be considered before Mr. Duterte “initiates any action” on any proposal to extend martial law and continue the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.
Meanwhile, AFP said that the proposed five-year extension of martial law by House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez is “too long” as they believed that security challenges could be addressed and normalized earlier than that.
Moreover, Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, the spokesperson for the AFP, on Monday stressed that the military could only recommend whether to lift or extend martial law.
“The lifting or extension of martial law is a ‘political decision’. Actually, five years may be too long for the moment,” Padilla said on a press briefing in Malacañang.
Abella said that President Duterte wants the immediate restoration of the rule of law, peace, order, and the overall safety and well-being of our citizens not only in Marawi but in the whole of the country.
“We assure all our citizens that the primordial consideration of our Commander in Chief is the national interest,” Abella added.
The President declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23 after terror group/s laid siege to Marawi City.
Duterte’s martial law declaration will end on July 22, if not extended. July 22, is two days before the President’s State of the Nation Address.