Martial law extension in Mindanao? Too much already, says Defense secretary Lorenzana

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Congress is set to review gains and losses in the declaration of martial law in Mindanao. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte first declared martial law when local terrorist elements, reportedly aided by foreign fighters associated with ISIS or the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq attacked the holy Muslim city of Marawi and left scores dead, several thousands injured and several thousands of families more homeless.

The five-month battle, which is now considered to be the longest urban city battle in the history of the Philippines, ended on October 17, 2019 when security forces already killed leaders of the terror groups and surviving members of the local terror group Maute scattered across various parts of the island of Mindanao.

Two years later, and Marawi remains partially occupied, with reconstruction efforts at only less than 10% accomplished. Duterte convinced Congress to give him martial law powers to conduct mopping up operations there and allow reconstruction and recovery teams to secure the area.

That emergency powers were renewed this time for a year. Now, with the deadline on martial law fast approaching, not many of Duterte’s cabinet are convinced of the necessity of prolonging or expanding the period of martial law.

Defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana believes that it is time to end martial law in Mindanao since there is but scant evidence of the revival of the Maute or a Maute-like local terrorist group.  It is time to give back the civil rights and liberties of the people, opines Lorenzana.

In an interview, Lorenzana said that he will tell the President that it is time for martial law to be lifted in Mindanao since the military and civil government had successfully kept the peace there.

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