MANILA (UPDATE) – Martial law in Mindanao will expire on Dec. 31, after being in force for nearly 3 years, as President Rodrigo Duterte will not ask Congress to extend it, his spokesman said Tuesday.
A security assessment showed "the weakening of the terrorist and extremist rebellion" in Mindanao, Salvador Panelo said. Duterte declared martial law in the south in 2017 after Islamic State-linked extremists laid siege on Marawi City, sparking 5 months of fighting.
“The Palace is confident in the capability of our security forces in maintaining the peace and security of Mindanao without extending Martial Law,” Panelo said.
“The people of Mindanao are assured that any incipient major threat in the region would be nipped in the bud,” he added.
Last month, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he was no longer inclined to recommend another extension of martial rule in Mindanao and called instead for a tougher anti-terrorism law.
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 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.
Even after the city was liberated on Oct. 17, 2017, President Duterte sought another extension for the whole of 2018, and another until the end of 2019.