AFP will continue to safeguard the hard-earned peace and stability
The goal of the security sector, which is to stop the rebellion in Marawi, Lanao Del Sur, and other areas in Mindanao, has been achieved as the Martial Law expired on the island effective midnight of December 31.
This, according to Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana in a message to reporters Tuesday night.
“At midnight 31 December 2019, the Martial Law in Mindanao will end after two years and seven months or 953 days of effectivity,” he added.
Martial law in Mindanao was first declared on May 23, 2017, a day after the ISIS-affiliated Maute Group attacked Marawi with the objective of establishing a caliphate in Mindanao.
It was extended from 24 July to 31 December 2017. Two other extensions were granted by Congress for the entire years of 2018 and 2019.
“Upon the recommendation of the security sector, the President has decided to allow martial law to lapse and not ask for another extension anymore,” Lorenzana said.
This is because the security sector, which the DND and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are part of, believes that their objective of stopping the rebellion in Marawi, Lanao Del Sur and other areas in Mindanao have been effectively stopped, he added.
He said security forces are very confident that they can maintain the current peace and order in Mindanao and that an attack similar to the scale of Marawi siege cannot be waged by remnants of the Mautes or any other terrorist groups in the future.
Lorenzana also expressed his gratitude to Congress for approving the extension of martial law three times.
“I would also like to thank the people of Mindanao for their whole-hearted support for martial law and their full cooperation during its implementation,” he added.
Lorenzana assured those who have openly issued statements of support for the extension of martial law, that the AFP will continue to safeguard the hard-earned peace and stability in the region.
The present number of troops, he said, will remain as is wherever they are and will continue to collaborate with the local government units to sustain peace and stability.
“Lastly, I would like to commend the DOJ (Department of Justice), DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government) as well as members of the AFP, PNP (Philippine National Police), NBI, PCG (Philippine Coast Guard) and other law enforcement agencies for their professional and excellent implementation of martial law in Mindanao,” he said.
He also lauded the Solicitor General for defending the declaration and extensions of martial law before the Supreme Court, which upheld the same.
Improved security climate
Meanwhile, AFP spokesperson, Marine Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, is confident of an improved security climate in Mindanao that will work for the benefit of fellow Filipinos.
“Specifically, where ML (martial law) was an issue, it is expected to boost economic activities due to added investors’ confidence,” Arevalo said in a message to PNA Tuesday night.
While the Daesh-inspired local terrorist groups continue to decline, Arevalo said the AFP urged local chief executives (LCEs) and their constituents to press on and build from the gains of Martial Law to maintain the strong security posture now in place.
“We encourage LCEs to continue their robust partnership with government security agencies. In the event that isolated incidents of violence and lawlessness erupt in Mindanao after martial law has lapsed, there still is Proclamation 55 in effect,” he added.
President Rodrigo R. Duterte, he said, has placed the entire Mindanao under a state of national emergency on account of lawless violence.
“Our people can then be assured that the AFP will deploy to suppress any and all forms of lawless violence to prevent them from spreading and escalating not only in Mindanao but elsewhere in the Philippines,” he added.
Filipinos, he said, can expect that the AFP will continue to push for the amendment of the Human Security Act especially with Senate President Vicente Sotto III assuring the passage of the new Anti-Terrorism Law to combat these threats. (PNA)