DESPITE the liberation of Marawi City, Mindanao will remain under martial law due to a lingering threat from terror groups in the country, a military spokesman said on Friday.
In a press conference in Malacañang, Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr. said there was still a network of local terrorists who remained to be combative, a ground for possible extension of martial law in Mindanao, if not addressed by yearend.
But Padilla assured the public that the government forces were exhausting all efforts to foil any potential terror attacks by Islamist fighters.
“We’re working towards that (lifting of martial law in Mindanao). We’re hoping to be able to address and normalize everything by the end of the year because that was the deadline given to us. But be that as it may, the network of the local terrorist groups still continue and this is the subject of our efforts,” Padilla told reporters.
“So if we are able to address that by the remaining days of November as well as the whole month of December, we will report that to you and give justification for the lifting of martial law. If not, we will have to request the extension to be able to address the remaining threats in the area,” he added.
Martial law was declared in Mindanao on May 23, when fighting in Marawi broke out. 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.
A day after the death of the terrorists’ leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute, Duterte declared that Marawi has been liberated from the influence of terrorists, allowing the government to shift its focus to rehabilitating the city.
Some sectors have asked Duterte to lift martial law now that security forces have eliminated the leaders of the bandits.
But the military said martial law was still needed to curb terrorist networks in other parts of Mindanao like Basilan and Sulu.