|Philippines President Duterte|
MANILA, Philippines — As the battle for Marawi City draws to a close, President Duterte sees no reason to lift martial law in Mindanao, citing the possibility that the violence would spill over to other areas of the region.
“I was thinking that we could, you know, lift it earlier, but the way it looks, there is a spillover of violence in the ARMM and Buldon,” Duterte said, mentioning the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao and Buldon, Maguindanao.
“Let us see, if it is to the interest of the country, and if I will lift it, I will lift it. But if not, then we’ll just continue with the martial law,” the President told the troops during the 11th founding anniversary of the Eastern Mindanao Command in Panacan, Davao City yesterday.
The rampage in Marawi forced President Duterte to declare martial law in the entire region of Mindanao on May 23.
Duterte had to cut short his trip to Russia after learning the Maute group attempted to occupy Marawi City in the bid to establish an Islamic State caliphate in the region.
After the declaration lapsed in July, Congress approved the Chief Executive’s request to extend martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in the region until Dec. 31.
In his speech yesterday, Duterte called on the military to “continue being faithful to their sworn oath to protect and defend our sovereignty, especially as martial law remains in effect in Mindanao amid the persisting threats of terrorism and insurgency.”
He said he is leaving it up to the military to decide how it would end the fighting in Marawi.
“Mind you, when I said I leave it to the military to solve the problem, that’s it. I will not meddle anymore, except that I advised them not to pepper the mosques,” he said.
As the fighting is nearing its conclusion, it is becoming tougher for government forces to finally subdue and defeat the Maute terrorists, military said.
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