PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa says the police want an extension of martial law because they’ve yet to capture all alleged narco-politicians with ties to the Maute Group
MANILA, Philippines (Jul. 17, 2017) — National police chief Ronald dela Rosa on Monday, July 17, confirmed that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) asked for an extension of martial law in Mindanao.
In a press conference, Dela Rosa said they submitted a position paper to President Rodrigo Duterte “expressing our stand on extending the martial law.”
He said they did not indicate for how long they wanted military rule to stay over the entire island of Mindanao. “Basta we are for the extension,” he added.
Duterte placed Mindanao under martial law on May 23, hours after military and police attempted to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon in Marawi City. The operation soon escalated, as government troops realized members and sympathizers of homegrown terror groups Maute and Abu Sayyaf had already embedded in the city.
Soldiers and police have been trying to flush out remaining fighters for nearly two months.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana had earlier confirmed the submission of their recommendation to Duterte. But he refused to disclose their recommendation “so as not to preempt the President.”
Lorenzana is the administrator of martial law.
Under the Constitution, martial law stays in place for a maximum of 60 days – or July 22 in this case. Should Duterte want it extended, he must secure the approval of Congress, which is composed mostly of his allies.
Dela Rosa earlier said the AFP and the PNP were inclined to ask for an extension, based on earlier discussions with AFP chief General Eduardo Año, the martial law implementor. But he also said then that they were considering reducing its scope.
The PNP chief earlier said the AFP’s recommendation would be based on tactical and operational considerations while theirs would be more for investigations.
“‘Yung mga identified na mga (The identified) narco-politicians who are believed to be supporting the cause of the Maute Group are still at large. And we still have to account them. Hulihin muna natin sila (We must catch them first),” said Dela Rosa, when asked about the reasons for their recommendation.
Alongside the declaration of martial law, Duterte suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, giving more leeway for military and police to enforce warrantless arrests.
Lorenzana has issued two arrest orders listing alleged members of homegrown terror groups and their alleged supporters. Several members of the Maute Group – including the Maute patriarch and matriarch – have been intercepted and arrested at various checkpoints in Mindanao.
Duterte himself has said he has no plans of lifting martial law by his second State of the Nation Address on July 24.