NOVEMBER 11, 2019 – A tougher anti-terrorism law is a “better arrangement” than another martial law extension in Mindanao, the defense secretary said on Monday.
Retired army general Delfin Lorenzana said he is not personally inclined to recommend another extension in the restive south which has been under martial law for two years.
“Matagal nang masyado eh” Lorenzana told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo. “We can do our job naman, especially if the Congress can pass the Human Security Act (HSA) na medyo mabibigyan ng ngipin ang ating law enforcement.”
President Rodrigo Duterte placed Mindanao under martial law on May 2017 after members of the Islamic State-inspired Maute Group laid siege in Marawi City, which killed more than 1,600 people and caused destruction estimated to cost nearly 100 billion pesos.
It was supposed to last for sixty days, but Congress extended it thrice upon the requests of Duterte to quell terror groups.
Last July, the chief executive floated the possibility for another extension, saying Mindanao “continues to be a problem.”
Lawmakers are now looking into amendments to the HSA, which redefines the acts of terrorism punishable by law. The amendments were also part of the executive branch’s priority bills in the 18th Congress.
“That’s a better arrangement than martial law,” Lorenzana said than imposing drastic measures, like military rule.
Lorenzana said he will still consider the recommendation of the military and police before making a decision.
“We’ll evaluate the reasons of the military and the police, and act accordingly,” Lorenzana added.
The government has beefed up its security following the three deadly blasts in Mindanao, especially the one in Indanan, Sulu on June 28 where one of the suspected suicide bombers was a Filipino.
The blasts that took place in a military headquarters camp resulted in eight deaths, including three soldiers and civilians. (Karen Macalalad / MM)