The Philippine National Police (PNP) has supported the recommendation of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana not to extend martial law in Mindanao, saying the situation there had improved.
“Sa ngayon, nakikita natin maaari rin talagang tanggalin ang martial law sa buong kapuluan ng Mindanao (Martial law can be lifted on the whole island of Mindanao),” PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac told reporters.
Banac said the peace and security situation in Mindanao was getting better.
“Peace and order in Mindanao is under control and continues to show marked stability, a condition that may eventually pave the way for lifting of martial law,” he added.
National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. also backed Lorenzana’s stance.
“We have the same position,” Esperon told reporters at the sidelines of the 5th Regional
Counter-Terrorism Financing Summit in Taguig City. “Many of the local executives think that they can manage on their own [the security in the area].”
The PNP will submit in December its recommendation to the National Security Council on whether or not to lift martial law in December.
Mindanao has been under military rule since 2017.
Banac said the crime volume in Mindanao went down and the spread of loose firearms was now under control.
But authorities remain on high alert in some areas, such as Sulu, because of the presence of terrorist groups such as Abu Sayyaf Group.
On Monday, Lorenzana said he was no longer inclined to support the extension of martial law in Mindanao.
But Esperon said should martial law be lifted, “we should be more diligent, and we must have more deployments.”
“Our operations against the Abu Sayyaf and the Maute [Group] have been successful. We of course saw some cases of suicide bombing,” he added.
The military’s Eastern Mindanao Command was also in favor of lifting martial law, especially in Davao City.
The Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) said martial law should only be implemented in areas where threats are imminent.
Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, WestMinCom chief, gave assurances that state forces are “on top of the situation” when it comes to the security of the western Mindanao area.
“The security situation here is manageable, especially now that the local government has been very supportive to us,” Sobejana said in a radio interview.