Saturday July 21, 2018

Duterte to lift martial law 'when it's safe in Mindanao'

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has pledged to lift martial law in entire Mindanao once he gets assurance from the military that it is already "safe" in the beleaguered region.

Duterte made the pronouncement on Thursday night when he conducted his fifth visit to security troops still engaged in a deadly battle with Islamic State (IS)-inspired Maute terrorist group.

The Chief Executive promised to announce the lifting of martial law in Mindanao as soon as there is no terror threats and spillover to other parts of the country.

"The catchword is when it's safe here in Mindanao [and there is no] spillage of men. As long as it remains manageable and the police can take care of it," Duterte, who was quizzed when will he repeal military rule in Mindanao, responded.

"I have to clean the place and watch out if there is a spillover or [if] any sympathy group would initiate the trouble again," he added.

On May 23, Duterte placed Mindanao under a one-man rule, following the skirmishes between government forces and Maute fighters in Marawi City.

The Maute group stormed the southern city while government troops are hunting Isnilon Hapilon, a top Abu Sayyaf leader and alleged IS emir to Southeast Asia.

The Islamist fighters laid siege to Marawi in an effort to establish a caliphate for IS gunmen situated in Southeast Asia.

The Commander-in-Chief's proclamation of martial law was aimed at intensifying state forces' operations to flush out all the terrorists who wreaked havoc in the south.

On July 22, Congress extended martial law in Mindanao until end of December 31, 2017, after it reached the mandatory 60-day period required under the 1987 Constitution.

'No celebration after Marawi crisis'

The Chief Executive said he has no plans to claim victory when the security personnel is able to liberate Marawi City from the terrorists.

He made the remark as he acknowledged the "very sad incident in the life of a soldier" who sacrificed just to retake the besieged city.

Duterte said he ordered the troops to just "quietly" pack up and leave the besieged city after they accomplish their mission.

"It's already winding up. And I told the soldiers, 'We will not have any celebration after all has been said and done, we will just go out quietly.' Pack their things and go home," the President said.

"No one wins here. To Maute group and the remaining terrorists, we do not claim any victory over you if you get killed or you faced difficulty because we did not start this ruckus. The government just reacted," he added. (SunStar Philippines)