Defense chief thumbs down another extension of Mindanao martial law

Jorge Carino, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 11 2019 12:55 PM | Updated as of Nov 11 2019 05:23 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) - Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Monday he was not inclined to recommend another extension of martial rule in Mindanao, calling instead for a tougher anti-terrorism law.

"Kung ako lang (If it's up to me) I will not recommend anymore the extension. Tagal na masyado (it's been too long)," he told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.

Lorenzana said Congress' amendment of the Human Security Act would be a "better arrangement than martial law" and would "give some teeth" to the country's law enforcement.

The military earlier said it supports amendments to the law, which would include a longer period of detention for alleged terrorists to 30 days from the current 3 days.

In response, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the President will consider Lorenzana's recommendation. "The President always says that he will defer to the advice and recommendation of those on the ground, he said.

The restive south was first placed under martial law in 2017 following clashes in Marawi City between government forces and Islamic State-inspired militants in 2017.

Even after the city was liberated on Oct. 17, 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte sought another extension for the whole 2018, and another until the end of 2019.

The Defense Secretary said they will act accordingly following evaluation of recommendations from the police and military.