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Extend martial law - Duterte
President Rodrigo Duterte wants Congress to extend martial law in Mindanao, endorsing the proposal of the military and the police not to lift military rule in the South despite the defeat of the Maute terror group that seized some areas in Marawi City in May this year.
Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas said the President will submit on Monday a letter to the Senate and House of Representatives seeking the extension of martial law for a year.
Fariñas said Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea texted him the news on Sunday.
He added that he and Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez (Davao del Norte) will discuss the schedule when a joint session with the Senate is held to tackle the President's request.
Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23, hours after the Islamic State-linked Maute Group attacked Marawi City. However, given the 60-day limit set by the Constitution on such rule, the President in July asked Congress to extend martial law until the end of this year.
Last week, the Armed Forces of the Philippines recommended the extension of martial law, citing persisting threats from Islamic State-inspired groups and the New People's Army (NPA).
Palace spokesman Harry Roque on Sunday said the President was "studying the recommendations and assessing the need" to extend martial law in Mindanao.
"(Duterte's) paramount concern is the security of our people, especially the Mindanaoans in the face of threats and the use of available means under the law to fight them," he added.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government had confirmed that the Philippine National Police requested a one year-extension of martial law.
'Difficult' without martial law
The Department of National Defense supported the military's recommendation, saying it will be difficult to rehabilitate Marawi without martial law.
DND spokesman Arsenio Andolong said the one-year extension of martial law will allow the military to continue the momentum of its campaign against the Islamic State-linked terrorists and their sympathizers in Mindanao.
Andolong said the extension of military rule will prevent the regrouping of terrorist organizations, such as the Maute group, the Abu Sayyaf Group and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Mindanao.
"As you know, there have been reports that they (Maute) are recruiting already in the Lanao area, so I think this will help curb their activities on the ground," he said.
"If we don't have martial law, it will be very difficult [for]the rehabilitation of Marawi City and the other war-torn areas in the province," he added.
Andolong explained that since the military and other government agencies involved in the Task Force Bangon Marawi are moving their logistics and equipment for the rehabilitation program, martial law will be necessary.
"How can we pursue the security of the area [in Marawi City]if we do not have martial law [in place]? Our engineers are on their way, they might be ambushed," Andolong told reporters. "There is a threat, in terms of seriousness … it is relative in different areas but yes, there are still threats, [the threat]is there, it is credible," he added.
[Source: By Ralph Villanueva, The Manila Times, Manila, 11Dec17]
Islamic paramilitary organizations
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