Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Monday said he would no longer support any proposal to extend martial law in Mindanao.
But he added that the final decision would be based on the recommendation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police (PNP).
“We are waiting for the recommendation of the Armed Forces and the PNP, it will depend on them. But if I will be asked, I will not recommend anymore the extension [of martial law],” he told reporters in an interview at Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.
Mindanao was placed under martial law in 2017 following clashes between government troops and militants affiliated with the Islamic State. Congress extended the implementation of martial law three times. If it will not be extended again, military rule will be lifted at the end of the year.
Lorenzana said three years of martial law is too long.
“It’s been there for so long. If the Senate or Congress can pass the [amended] Human Security Act [of 2007], which will give more teeth on our law enforcement [and] that’s a better arrangement than martial law,” he added.
National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. earlier proposed another extension of martial law in Mindanao. However, the heads of the Eastern Mindanao Command and the Western Mindanao Command said it could be implemented in selected areas.
Malacañang said President Rodrigo Duterte would take into consideration LorenzanaLs opinion in deciding whether to extend martial law in the South or not.
Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo said Duterte would wait for the recommendation of people on the ground before making any decision.
“That will be considered by the President. The President always says he will defer to the advice or the recommendation of those on the ground,” he added.