Duterte won’t seek martial rule extension

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PRESIDENT RODRIGO R. Duterte won’t seek an extension of martial in Mindanao, citing decreasing crime in the region, his spokesman said on Tuesday.

The Department of Interior and Local Government, Philippine National Police and Mr. Duterte’s security and defense advisers all recommended that martial law not be extended, presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said at a briefing.

“His decision is based on the assessment of security enforcers as well as the defense advisers that the terrorist and extremist rebellion had been weakened as a result of the capture or neutralization of the leaders,” Mr. Panelo said.

The president placed Mindanao under martial rule in 2017 after extremists linked to Islamic State raided Marawi City, leaving about 100 people dead and displacing thousands after clashes with the military.

Congress extended the 60-day martial rule until the end of 2017 to help authorities end the Marawi siege that lasted about five months.

Lawmakers again extended martial law, upon the request of Mr. Duterte, in Mindanao until the end of this year to help fight terrorism.

Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana earlier said he was not inclined to recommend another extension, calling instead for a tougher anti-terrorism law.

The Philippine National Police also saw no need to extend martial rule in Mindanao, its spokesman has said.

Commission on Human Rights spokesperson Jacqueline Ann C. de Guia has said martial law should be reserved as an extraordinary measure for lawless violence, invasion or rebellion.

“The people of Mindanao can rest assured that any incipient major threat in Mindanao will be nipped in the bud even without martial law,” Mr. Panelo said. — Gillian M. Cortez