The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will likely submit this week its recommendation to President Rodrigo Duterte on whether to lift or extend the declaration of martial law in Mindanao, a Palace official said on Monday.
Quoting AFP public affairs chief Edgard Arevalo, Palace spokesman Harry Roque said the military’s assessment of the situation in Mindanao was ongoing.
“The AFP is mindful that the extension of martial law implementation ends on 31 December 2017. It is currently in the process of assessment and deliberation as to the recommendation,” Roque said in news conference.
“The AFP is looking at the possibility of submitting its recommendation to the President and Commander in Chief through the National – through the Department of National Defense by the first week of December,” he added.
On May 23, Duterte placed the entire region of Mindanao under martial law after Marawi City was stormed by heavily armed homegrown militants who had pledged allegiance to the dreaded Islamic State.
Congress overwhelmingly voted to extend martial law in Mindanao until yearend after the proclamation reached its 60-day constitutional limit in July, giving the military more time to stabilize the strife-torn region.
On Saturday, Roque hinted at another extension of martial law in Mindanao, saying such an environment was needed for the recovery of Marawi City.
“For me, let us allow the armed forces to decide because they know what’s happening on the ground. While Marawi has been liberated, the threat of terrorism and violent extremism still persists,” Roque told a news conference in Zamboanga City.
“Can you imagine if [there is no martial law while rehabilitation efforts are ongoing]? Well, anyway, I do not want to preempt the recommendation of the armed forces and I do not want to preempt any decision made by the government,” he added.
Roque said the President might announce his decision concerning martial law before Congress goes on recess on December 15.
“The recommendation will be submitted by next week. So the President will make a decision, if not next week, then the week after because Congress will go on recess on the 15th, and as you know, we cannot have an extension of martial law, without consent of Congress,” he said.
If Duterte decides to extend martial law in Mindanao, the Senate and the House of Representatives will hold a special joint session to discuss and vote on the President’s proposal.