Palace: Mindanao should remain under state of emergency over insurgency, terror threat

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 03 2020 04:39 PM

MANILA - Mindanao should remain under a state of emergency even after military rule was lifted at the turn of the year because of the persisting communist insurgency problem, Malacañang said Friday.

Threats of terrorism are also another factor in maintaining a "state of emergency on account of lawless violence" in Mindanao, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.

"...[T]he same should remain imposed and strictly observed by the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) and PNP (Philippine National Police) to ensure the maintenance of law and order in all other parts of the country given that there remains the communist insurgency to reckon with, as well as there is yet a terrorist organization resurrecting to be crushed," Panelo said.

Strict security remains in effect in Mindanao because of President Rodrigo Duterte's Proclamation No. 55.

"...[A]s long as the President deems it necessary to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion, or rebellion (such as at present times), then he is lawfully authorized to resort to this calling out power," Panelo said.

Military spokesman Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo on Thursday said such protocol is necessary to counter "terrorist violence" in Mindanao.

Southern Philippines has long been dealing with insurgency and terrorism problems. 

On May 23, 2017, it was placed under martial law after the Islamic State-linked Maute group stormed the southern city of Marawi. The military rule was extended thrice, which human rights groups and social activists questioned due to alleged abuses. 

In the days leading to the lifting of martial law in Mindanao, the government sought to formally reopen peace negotiations with communist rebels. A holiday truce was even declared by both sides.

While the communist rebels have yet to return to the negotiating table, Malacañang urged the public to cooperate with the government under the state of emergency proclamation.

"The Office of the President asks the citizenry for their usual cooperation, even as we assure them that the government will not allow any abuse of their fundamental civil and political rights during this state of national emergency," Panelo said.