Military supports proposed Mindanao martial law extension- Año

Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 18 2017 08:48 PM

MANILA- The military supports President Rodrigo Duterte's proposal to extend martial law in Mindanao until the end of the year, Armed Forces Chief of Staff Eduardo Año said Tuesday.

Speaking to the media, Año said five months would be enough time for the military to address security problems in conflict-stricken Mindanao.

This comes after Duterte asked Congress to extend martial law until December, as his declaration expires on Saturday, July 22.

The President said the 60-day period he had declared on May 23, when clashes erupted between state forces and Maute terrorists in Marawi City, was not enough to quell the rebellion in Mindanao.

The military chief confirmed that the AFP has recommended to the President the extension of martial law, citing the prevailing situation in Mindanao, particularly in war-torn Marawi.

In the recommendation, Año said the AFP included a timeline to address Mindanao security problems, details of which he refused to divulge.

"I think the President would agree that once everything is normalized, we will even recommend for the early termination of martial law," Año said, adding that he was ready to appear before Congress on Saturday to push for the President's extension request. 

"Ang sa atin lang, pure trabaho lang tayo. We do not have any interest [except] to bring back normalcy and defeat all the threats, particularly the terrorists in Maute-ISIS who staged this rebellion," he added.

Año said the military will look beyond the Marawi crisis, citing threats posed by Abu Sayyaf and other terrorist groups. 

The bandit group, known to be behind kidnap-for-ransom activities targeting foreigners, has figured in several encounters with state troops this month in different parts of Mindanao. 

He said at least 800 ISIS-inspired Maute terrorists continue to exist in Mindanao because of intensified recruitment by terrorist groups. 

"Ang ating i-address dito, lahat ng terrorist group that supported the rebellion staged in the city by the Maute. Kung titignan natin, nandiyan pa ang mga pwersa nila," he explained.

The long-drawn conflict has left more than 500 dead and driven out roughly 300,000 residents from Marawi City and nearby areas.