MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said the imposition of martial law in Mindanao “lessened criminality” in the region, even as the south was recently hit by successive bombings that brought to question the effectiveness of martial rule.
“It has lessened criminality by and large. And the only way to do that is to conduct a survey amongst the people of Mindanao, the political leaders, they can call them,” Duterte said in a televised interview with Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo.
Duterte placed Mindanao under martial law in May 2017 after Islamic State-inspired terrorists laid siege on predominantly Muslim Marawi City.
At least 1,100 people, mostly terrorists, were killed in the 5-month siege. Rehabilitation efforts are ongoing.
The terrorists were aiming to establish an ISIS stronghold in Mindanao. Government and security experts believe that the threat ISIS poses in the region remains, complicating efforts to bring the city back to normal.
Martial law in Mindanao will remain in effect until the end of 2018 after Congress twice granted an extension. But there has been talk of possibly extending it again after the series of bombings in the region.
Critics, however, said the bombings showed that martial law is not the solution against terrorism in the restive region.