Duterte Eager to Prolong Martial Law in Philippines' South for 1 Year

Senator Richard J. Gordon

MANILA, Philippines - With the goal of "total eradication" of Islamic State-inspired terror groups in Mindanao, President Rodrigo Duterte asked Congress to extend martial law in the region by one year.

The request comes almost two months after Duterte declared the liberation of Marawi City.

He noted that at least 185 terrorists listed in the martial law arrest orders remain at large.

Duterte said there is a need to do so to totally eradicate the Daesh-inspired Da'awaful Islamiyah Waliyatul Mastiq, other local and foreign terrorist groups, armed lawless groups, communist terrorists, their supporters, coddlers, and financiers.

The Philippine leader will formally request on Monday a one-year extension of martial law, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea told reporters.

Duterte, who has praised Marcos, has repeatedly said he may impose martial law across the entire nation.

He specified the activities of the Turaifie Group, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, and Abu Sayyaf Group.

Their goal, said Duterte, is to "seize political power through violent means and supplant the country's democratic form of government with communist rule". Twenty-three civilians were also killed and 6 others were wounded as a result of the NPA's atrocities, he added.

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"(Duterte's) paramount concern is the security of our people, especially the Mindanaoans in the face of threats and the use of available means under the law to fight them", he added.

"Nagsalita na si Secretary Lorenzana dyan that he is not inclined to declare a suspension of military operations this Christmas because it will give them [NPA] a chance also to continue their attacks on our outpost, they are taking potshots at our troops and policemen and he does not relish that".

Opposition lawmakers have said there was no basis to further extend martial rule in Mindanao.

"The projected extension of martial law in Mindanao is constitutionally infirm, both as to grounds and duration".

Sens. Bam Aquino, Franklin Drilon, Risa Hontiveros, Francis Pangilinan and Antonio Trillanes IV said martial law, along with military air strikes, were the primary reasons the residents fled Marawi in the early stage of the Maute group's siege.

"There is no more factual basis for the extension of martial law in Mindanao after President Duterte declared the liberation of Marawi City from rebels and terrorists nearly two months ago, and government combat forces had been withdrawn", added Lagman.

On July 22 - the supposed expiration of the 60-day military rule - Congress granted the President's request to extend martial law in the south until the end of the year.

This led to a five-month battle in Marawi City, which has displaced around 360,000 people.

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