President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said he would heed the advice of state forces on whether to lift or extend martial law in Mindanao.
The President made the statement after his security officials have thumbed down another extension of martial law.
Speaking to reporters in Malacañang, Duterte said he would make a decision, once he received the recommendations of the military and the police.
“I will leave it to the military and the police to make the recommendation. Martial law is a military thing and it’s their assessment or their evaluation of the Mindanao situation,” the President said.
“If the Defense Secretary says that it’s no longer needed, I’ll wait also for the statement of the military and the police. Then I will decide… [But] wala pa ho sa table ko (The recommendations are not yet on my table),” he added.
Duterte was referring to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who earlier said he would no longer support any proposal to extend the military rule in Mindanao, calling instead for a tougher anti-terrorism law.
Apart from Lorenzana, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. had also stressed that there was no need to further extend martial law in Mindanao if the Congress was able to pass a measure that amends Republic Act (RA) 9372 or the Human Security Act of 2007.
RA 9372, which took effect on March 6, 2007, aims to provide law enforcement and judicial authorities with the legal tools to confront terror threats in the country.
The military earlier said it supported amendments to the law, which would include a longer period of detention for alleged terrorists to 30 days from the current three days.
Under Section 18, Article 7 of the 1987 Constitution, a president can declare martial law and suspend the writ of habeas corpus for a period not exceeding 60 days, in case of invasion or rebellion.
It also states that such proclamation of martial law or suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus can either be revoked or extended for a period determined by Congress through joint voting.
Duterte has placed Mindanao under martial law in May 23, 2017 when members of the Islamic State-inspired Maute group attacked Marawi City, sparking a months-long armed conflict.
The military rule has been extended thrice since then and will again lapse on December 31, 2019.