PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte's decision on whether to lift or further extend martial law in Mindanao would depend on the recommendations of his "men on the ground," Malacañang said on Tuesday, July 23.
The Palace issued the statement after National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperson Jr. said in a post-State of the Nation Address (Sona) briefing that he will recommend another one-year extension of martial rule in Mindanao because of the prevailing terror threats in the region.
"If that is the recommendation 'di ba (then), the President always says [that when it comes to] the men on the ground, he will listen to them kasi sila ang nakakaalam noon (because they know the facts)," Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a press conference Tuesday.
"The President will listen to those who are knowledgeable on the facts existing on the ground," he added.
Following the recent bombings in Mindanao, Esperon noted earlier Tuesday that terror acts continue to threaten the region.
On July 18, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the President may opt to wield his emergency powers, including the possible expansion of martial law declaration, in case terror attacks reach areas that are outside Mindanao.
Duterte on July 10 said he saw "very dangerous times" ahead for the country, following the recent bombings in Mindanao.
Mindanao has been placed under martial law since the attack by the Maute terror group in strife-torn Marawi City in Lanao del Sur province on May 23, 2017.
The implementation of martial law has been extended three times and will lapse on December 31, 2019.
Just recently, the military and police confirmed that one of the two suicide bombers behind the twin blasts in Indanan, Sulu on June 28 was a Filipino. This was the first case of suicide bombing in the country perpetrated by a Filipino.
Also on July 17, the military's bomb-sniffing dogs detected traces of explosives in an abandoned motorcycle outside the gate of the Philippine Army headquarters in Taguig. (SunStar Philippines)