Task Force Bangon Marawi chief Eduardo del Rosario on Friday said he was open to extending martial law in Mindanao to secure rehabilitation efforts in Marawi City from terrorist attacks.
During the “Bangon Marawi” briefing in Malacañang, del Rosario, citing intelligence reports, claimed members of Islamic State (IS)-inspired Maute terrorists continued to operate in Mindanao and were conducting “massive recruitment” of new members.
“It’s really very important that we can continue to ensure that the whole area, not only Marawi City but the whole of Mindanao, will be secured from any terrorist threat,” del Rosario said when asked about the possible extension of martial law in Mindanao.
“[Recruiters are] promising so much money, as high as P100,000, just to be a member of the ISIS group,” he said, using another name for IS.
Del Rosario, who also heads the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, feared that the purported massive recruitment by the terrorist group might impede rehabilitation efforts in the city.
“Personally, I would like martial law to continue during the rehabilitation phase because as chairman of Task Force Bangon Marawi, my main concern is the security of the whole rehabilitation effort. Just imagine if something will happen in Marawi City during the rehabilitation phase, contractors and laborers might no longer come there. It will be difficult for us during the rehabilitation phase,” he said.
Martial law was declared in Mindanao on May 23, when Maute men attacked the Islamic city. Under the 1987 Constitution, the declaration was limited to 60 days. But on the request of President Rodrigo Duterte, Congress extended it until December 31, 2017.
The battle between the security forces and terrorists took nearly five months, and ended with the deaths of IS emir Isnilon Hapilon and Maute leader Omar Maute.
On November 18, Duterte said the lifting of martial law in the entire Mindanao would depend on the recommendation of the military and the police.
No assurance of total restoration
During the Palace press briefing, Lanao del Sur Assemblyman Zia Alonto Adiong emphasized that end of Marawi crisis would not ensure the total restoration of the strife-torn city.
Adiong likewise said the Maute group might take advantage of the government’s “leniency” to be able to recruit new members.
“Actually, we’ve been saying this all along. The crisis will really start after the war. And there are several reports that we’ve been receiving that the recruitment activity is now ongoing in some other towns,” Adiong siad.
Del Rosario said Task Force Bangon Marawi would coordinate with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police to make the necessary recommendation on the extension of the martial law.