Military ground commanders in Mindanao recommended a one-year extension of martial law, according to a well-placed source.
The source told reporters the recommendation came from those who were familiar with the situation in Mindanao during and after the siege in Marawi City.
“The recommendations from the ground commanders went straight to the Chief of Staff of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines). Almost all ground commanders see the need for martial law at this time to finish off their problems there when it comes to terrorism,” the source said.
The commanders, he added, want the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus to remain so that they can go after members of the Maute Group, their supporters and financiers.
“That is the important component because we cannot arrest the supporters and financiers of the IS-inspired terrorists without martial law extension,” the source explained.
He added that the military has been monitoring a “tactical [alliance]” between the IS-inspired groups and the New People’s Army (NPA).
“I think it’s going to be a marriage of convenience…for the moment it would be convenient,” the source said.
He revealed that the recruitment by terrorists in Lake Lanao was among the reasons why ground commanders sought a one-year extension of martial law.
“Hopefully, the extension of martial law for one year will spell the end of these terror groups. We are hoping it would end with this one,” the source said.
He was confident that President Rodrigo Duterte will extend martial law in Mindanao.
“He will defer to the recommendations of the AFP,” the source said.
On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana revealed that the military has submitted its recommendation to the President but declined to give details.
The President declared martial law in the whole island of Mindanao on May 23, shortly after the Islamic State-linked Maute Group seized several areas in Marawi City in its attempt to establish a caliphate there. Congress allowed martial law to be extended until the end of 2017.
The Supreme Court had upheld the martial law declaration with an 11-3-1 vote, junking all petitions questioning the proclamation of military rule in the South.
with RJ CARBONELL