MANILA - The military will play it by ear in deciding the recommendation to expand martial law beyond Mindanao should lawless violence spread across the archipelago.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff General Rey Leonardo Guerrero on Friday did not close doors on the possibility of expanding martial law nationwide but noted that it is still too early to think about it.
"'Yung actions namin will also depend on the political situation, and also the reaction of 'yung adversaries natin. Eh kung maging violent sila, eh siguro the answer is obvious," Guerrero told reporters.
Guerrero, however, allayed concerns on expanding martial law, saying the idea is still too speculative at present.
"It's too early to think, it's too far in the future for me to project," he said.
Guerrero's comments come following Congress' approval of President Rodrigo Duterte's request to extend martial law in Mindanao for another year to quell the threat of terrorism.
This after the end of firefights between state forces and Islamic State-linked terrorists in Marawi City, which had prompted Duterte's initial declaration of a 60-day martial rule in Mindanao in May. It was first extended in July.
Duterte had sought the extension of martial law arguing that it would help state forces better deal with lawless armed groups in Mindanao and ensure public safety.
Guerrero refused to give a timeline in ridding the country of terrorists, saying he is "just being practical."
"For me to say that we will be able to finish the terrorist problem within my term considering that I will be serving only up to April will be siguro overly ambitious. I'm just being practical," said Guerrero.
With the upsurge of atrocities in Eastern Mindanao, Guerrero said they have started to put in more of their forces in the region and also in Sulu and Basilan to address security problems.