By Chito Chavez
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has expressed overwhelming support for the recommendation of the Department of National Defense (DND) “not to extend the declaration of martial law in Mindanao after it expires on December 31 this year.”
DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said the DILG has concurred with the stand of the DND that “the purpose of martial law has been attained based on the assessment of military and police forces.”
He noted that extending martial law is unnecessary because “normalcy has returned to the entire region and the peace and order situation in the area has remarkably improved since the Marawi siege of 2017.”
“In the last two years and eight months that martial law is in effect in Mindanao, our military and police forces in the region have significantly degraded the forces and capabilities of the Maute and other threat groups that they no longer have any capacity to launch a Marawi-type attack.
“Moreover, three guerilla fronts have been cleared and three Pulang Bagani commands of the CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army – National Democratic Front) have been dismantled,” Año said.
“Our local government units, through their respective local peace and order councils from the regional down to the barangay level, are also now more engaged and are actively working with their counterparts in the security sector to carry out peace and security measures in Mindanao.
“In fact, there is a 30 percent drop in crime in the BARMM (Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) alone,” he added.
The DILG chief also insisted the lifting of martial law will be advantageous to the economy as it will signal the full return to normalcy and the end to perceived security risks of investing in and travelling to Mindanao.
“The lifting of martial law would definitely bring in more local and foreign investments and increase tourist arrivals in the region,” he said.
“Nonetheless, we assure the public that even without martial law, the PNP (Philippine National Police) and AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) will continue to maintain [their] strong presence in the region through sustained security operations, offensives, and checkpoints to protect Mindanaoeños from any possible threat from extremists and Communist terrorists,” the DILG chief said.