PNP concurs with AFP on lifting of martial law in Mindanao

December 05, 2019

MARTIAL law will soon be lifted in Mindanao upon the recommendation of the Armed Forces which has been agreed upon by the Philippine National Police despite previous calls by some officials for ‘selective’ martial rule in some parts of the region, the Journal Group learned yesterday.

“Based on security assessment, prevailing law and order, and steady decrease of crime incidents in Mindanao, the PNP confirms its recommendation submitted to the Department of National Defense and the Department of Interior and Local Government and concurs with the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ assessment, for the lifting of martial law and that it may no longer be extended beyond the authorized period,” PNP spokesman, Brigadier General Bernard M. Banac said.

The Journal Group earlier reported that many police officials are still pushing for the continued imposition of martial rule in the region save for some who wants it lifted for economic reasons.

Officials said that since martial law was imposed in Mindanao, they have noted a continuing decline in crime and terrorist related incidents in many parts of the region and would want the same to continue if possible to give them the ‘absolute advantage’ in strengthening their campaign against terror groups and other lawless elements in the Southern Philippines.

Mindanao police officials confirmed as a result of martial law, momentum is already on their side in ending the longstanding presence of lawless elements including the New People’s Army and other terror groups operating in the area and in further reducing crime incidents in the region.

Some officials particularly called for the continuing martial law in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region. However, their recommendation was overruled by the Defense department.

BARMM is composed of the provinces of  Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, Lamitan City in Basilan, Marawi City, Cotabato City and 63 additional barangays in six North Cotabato towns.

Security officials noted that the war on terror is particularly high in BARMM where many foreign-sponsored rebel groups including the ISIS-inspired Abu Sayyaf and the Maute Group have gained notoriety for launching terror attacks including the infamous Marawi City siege which prompted President Duterte to declare martial law in the entire Mindanao region.

These groups have been involved in ‘suicide bombings,’ planting of powerful improvised explosive devices and vehicle-borne bombs and harassing security forces leaving dozens of casualties over the years.

The Journal Group learned that the local police and military have been pushing for the continued martial law in the region BARMM police officials said that in reality, their conduct of law enforcement operations  and focused military operations in the region were made much easier when martial law was declared since they effectively prevented the flow of illegal guns.

Ownership and possession of high-powered guns, many of them unlicensed, has been a way of life in parts of the region specifically Sulu, Maguindanao and Basilan which have been the scene of countless violent incidents triggered by ‘Rido’ or family vendettas which for many Muslims is a just means of attaining peace.

Records from the BARMM police regional office headed by Brig. Gen. Marni C. Marcos Jr. showed that crime volume in the region went down from 2016 to date when martial law was imposed.

In 2016, the region police recorded 3,860 crimes in the region followed by a mere 3,215 incidents in 2017. In 2018, the BARMM crime volume further went down to 2,569 incidents.

Officials however said that since BARMM residents have been accustomed to a military-like environment for decades now, they are already more matured compared to other people who resent the presence of heavily-armed soldiers and policemen patrolling their neighborhood to keep peace.