MANILA - Two years after the declaration of martial law in Mindanao, President Rodrigo Duterte said the restive region remains "dangerous".
Speaking during the oath-taking of newly elected local officials and Hugpong ng Pagbabago senators at the Malacañang Tuesday, Duterte said lawlessness and violence are still rampant in Mindanao.
"Far and wide in between the years, we had so many troubles. Lawless violence, it’s still there. Tapos ‘yung ayaw sumunod. And be… Mindanao really seems to be a dangerous place still to go around," he said.
"Delikado ang Mindanao," Duterte said.
Parts of Mindanao have for decades been troubled by banditry, piracy and armed rebellions by Moro separatist and communist militias, some of which have been managed by truces and decentralization moves.
In May 2017, the region saw the eruption of the country’s fiercest conflict since World War 2, when an alliance of extremists seeking to create an Islamic State enclave attacked and held Marawi City through five months of government air strikes and ground offensives.
Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao in the wake of the Marawi City siege.
The original martial law declaration was supposed to last only for 60 days, as indicated in the Constitution, but Congress voted to extend it until the end of 2017 to help troops end the siege.
In late 2017, President Duterte requested for another extension until the end of 2018, saying the militants were regrouping despite the end of clashes.
In December 2018, Congress had granted for the third time Duterte's request to extend martial law in the restive south until the end of 2019 to quell terror groups that "continue to defy the government."