DEFENSE Secretary Delfin Lorenzana yesterday admitted before Congress that the rebellion in Mindanao has not yet been entirely subdued.
“Rebellion has not stopped. It just moved to another place,” Lorenzana said during the Congress’ joint session to deliberate on President Duterte’s request for a one-year extension of martial law in Mindanao.
He said while there is substantial change in the situation in Marawi City following a five-month siege, other groups inspired by the Islamic State have been consolidating their forces through recruitment especially in central Mindanao.
“The situation in Marawi has substantially changed from the time that our troops were fighting the Isis-inspired Maute group. However, as situations developed later on, the other Isis-inspired groups… (there are) reports now, (that) they are actively recruiting some of the Muslim youths in the area,” he said.
Lorenzana, who is martial law administrator, was responding to Sen. Franklin Drilon’s query on the basis of extending martial law in Mindanao despite the pronouncement of liberation of Marawi City from terrorists.
Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra, for his part, said even the courts concluded that “rebellion in Marawi has already spilled over” to other parts of Mindanao.
Drilon questioned the constitutionality of extending martial law, noting that there are only threats at this point instead of an actual state of rebellion.
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea told Congress: “We do not ask for an unlimited martial law. What we are seeking is unlimited peace.”
Medialdea said “the state of rebellion subsists” in Mindanao.
“There is substantial change, but the battlefield has now moved to other places in Mindanao,” he said.
Medialdea said remnants of the Da’awatul Islamiyah Waliyatul Masriq are active in recruiting and consolidating their forces in central Mindanao.
He also cited threats posed by Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, with a total of 89 violent incidents since the year started, as well as remnants of the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Zamboanga Peninsula.
Furthermore, he said, communist rebels, particularly members of the New People’s Army, have taken advantage of the Marawi siege and perpetrated at least 385 atrocities in Mindanao since the year started, resulting in the death of 41 state forces and the wounding of 62 others.
“Public safety requires the further extension of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao in order to quell this rebellion completely,” Medialdea said.
“Our armed forces and the police personnel remain steadfast in their commitment as a protector of our people and in their duty to secure the sovereignty of the state and the integrity of the national territory,” he said. (pna)