MANILA - The military said Friday it recommended the extension of martial law in Mindanao, which has been in effect for 7 months, citing "significant violent activities" from extremist groups in the south.
Armed Forces spokesman Major General Restituto Padilla, however, could not say for how long the military wanted martial rule to stay. A similar recommendation to extend it was submitted by the police, he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23, as fighting broke between state forces and Islamic State-inspired Maute militants in Marawi City. Congress extended it to Dec. 31 as the 60-day effectivity of the President's order lapsed in July.
The military still faces “significant violent activities” from groups such as the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Maguindanao, Lanao provinces, and Cotabato, as well as the Abu Sayyaf Group in Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi, Padilla told reporters.
"They still remain to be a threat, although they have been significantly degraded in terms of capability and manpower," Padilla said.
The President declared Marawi City "liberated" from the Maute group in October.
"Those who survived the siege still remain at large and are attempting to recover by recruiting other members of the society, particularly the vulnerable sector of our population and they are the students, women, and the relatives of those who lost their lives in the fight," Padilla said.
The "increasing" threat of violence from the communist New People's Army also prompted the recommendation to extend martial law, he said.
Duterte recently declared the New People’s Army as a terrorist group following the collapse of the government’s peace talks with the communist movement.
According to Padilla, there was a 65-percent increase in violent incidents involving the NPA in Eastern Mindanao since the start of the year.
Of the 617 incidents involving the NPA this year, 382 took place in Eastern Mindanao, he said.