Lorenzana says troops in Mindanao will not be cut despite end of martial law
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the number of troops deployed in Mindanao will not be reduced despite the termination of Martial Law on Tuesday midnight.
"The present number of troops will remain as is wherever they are and
will continue to collaborate with the LGUs to sustain peace and stability," Lorenzana said in a statement issued on Tuesday.
The defense chief also assures that despite the end of martial law the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will ensure "peace and stability" in southern Philippines.
"For those who have openly issued statements of support for the extension of martial law, let me assure you that the AFP will continue to safeguard the hard-earned peace and stability in the region," he said.
"The security sector believes that the objective of the martial law has been achieved. The rebellion in Marawi, Lanao del Sur and other areas in Mindanao have been effectively stopped," Lorenzana said.
"They are confident that they can maintain the current peace and order in Mindanao and that an attack similar in scale to Marawi cannot be waged by the remnants of the Mautes or by any other terrorist groups in the future," he added.
Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, AFP spokesman said "in the event that isolated incidents of violence and lawlessness erupt in Mindanao after martial law has lapsed, there still is Proclamation 55 in effect."
"Under such declaration, President Duterte has placed the entire Mindanao under a state of national emergency on account of lawless violence," he said.
"Our people can then be assured that the Armed Forces of the Philippines will deploy to suppress any and all forms of lawless violence to prevent them from spreading and escalating not only in Mindanao but elsewhere in the Philippines," he added.
However, Arevalo encourage the "local chief executives to continue their robust partnership with government security agencies."
"We are confident of an improved security climate in Mindanao that will work for the benefit of fellow Filipinos. Specifically, where Martial Law was an issue, it is expected to boost economic activities due to added investors’ confidence," he said.
"While the Daesh-inspired local terrorist groups continue to decline, we urge local chief executives and their constituents to press on and build from the gains of Martial Law to maintain the strong security posture now in place," he added.
After two years and seven months or 953 days martial ,aw in Mindanao was finally terminated at the midnight of December 31, 2019.
Lorenzana said martial law, which was extended three times, was first declared on May 23, 2017, a day after the ISIS-affiliated Maute
Group attacked the city of Marawi with the objective of establishing a caliphate in Mindanao.
"It was extended from 24 July to 31 December 2017. Two other extensions were granted by Congress for the entire years of 2018 and 2019," he said.
"Upon the recommendation of the security sector the President has decided to allow martial law to lapse and not ask for another extension anymore," he added.
Lorenzana expressed gratitude to the people of Mindanao, lawmakers and other government agencies and organizations who provide their full cooperation during the Martial Law implementation.
"I would like to thank Congress for approving the extension of martial law three times. I would also like to thank the people of Mindanao for their whole-hearted support for martial law and their full cooperation during its implementation," he said.
"Lastly, I would like to commend the DOJ ( Department of Justice), DILG ( Department of Interior and Local Government), as well as members of the AFP, PNP ( Philippine National Police), NBI (National Bureau of Investigation), PCG ( Philippine Coast Guard) and other law enforcement agencies for their professional and excellent implementation of martial law in Mindanao," said Lorenzana.
"I would also like to express my heartfelt appreciation to the Solicitor General for defending the declaration and extensions of martial law at the Supreme Court, and the latter for upholding the same," he added.
Arevalo said "fellow Filipinos can expect that the AFP will continue to push for the amendment of the Human Security Act especially with Senate President Vicente Sotto III assuring the passage of the new Anti-Terrorism Law." Robina Asido/DMS