MALACANANG is open to the possibility that President Rodrigo Duterte will push for a third extension of martial law in Mindanao, subject to Congress’ approval.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo issued the remark yesterday after the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines affirmed their support for an extension with the military citing “lurking” threat of terrorism in the region.
AFP chief General Carlito Galvez Jr. said he would recommend to Duterte a one-year extension of martial law.
“The President will always evaluate whatever recommendations that the AFP and the PNP will give him,” Panelo said at a news conference. “But given the support of martial law in Mindanao, even by a Catholic bishop and the citizens there, the President may be persuaded to grant, to approve their recommendation.”
Panelo said public safety will be the primary consideration in deciding whether to push for another extension, which needed congressional concurrence.
“If the threat remains and there is still an ongoing rebellion, then constitutionally the basis would be valid for continuation of martial law,” he added.
The martial rule — declared on May 23 last year and extended twice already after securing majority support in Congress — is set to end on December 31, 2018.
The region was placed under martial rule following the attack of the ISIS-inspired Maute group on Marawi City, sparking a five-month battle that left more than 1,000 people dead, mostly terror fighters and displaced thousands of residents.