DND, AFP laud Congress nod on ML extension in Mindanao

MANILA The Department of National Defense (DND) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Wednesday welcomed the decision of Congress to extend martial law in Mindanao for another year.

"The Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces of the Philippines are grateful for the overwhelming vote of confidence of our legislators as well as the strong support of the Filipino people, especially of the Mindanaoans, which made possible the third Congressional Extension of Martial Law in Mindanao," Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a statement to reporters Wednesday.

He added that the AFP will continue to uphold its mandate of defending the sovereignty of the state, upholding the integrity of Philippine territory and protecting the democratic way of life of the Filipino people, with full respect for human rights, international humanitarian law and the primacy of the rule of law.

"Pakaiingatan po namin ang tiwalang ito mula sa sambayanan at makakaasa po kayo na hindi ito masasayang (Rest assured that we will uphold the people's trust)," Lorenzana said.

Lorenzana's statements were echoed by AFP spokesperson Brig. Edgard Arevalo.

We appreciate this grant that lengthens the period of martial law implementation mindful that it is impressed with enormous responsibility on the part of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to quell the rebellion that persists in Mindanao and prevent lawless violence by local terrorist groups from spreading to other parts of the country," he added.

In a 235-28-1 vote, Congress, in a joint session, voted to approve the extension of martial law in Mindanao until Dec. 31, 2019.

Apart from that reason, the extension seeks not only to sustain the economic gains owing to the peace and security in Mindanao, it also responds to positively to the clamor of local government executives to extend martial law implementation in the island because of law and order it provides to their constituents," Arevalo added.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) also welcomed the Congress' decision.

"This is a good day for the people of Mindanao to be assured of another full year of peace and security against the imminent threat of violence from extremist and communist terrorist forces," PNP chief, Director General Oscar Albayalde, said in a statement.

Albayalde assured that there will be no let-up in police operations against lawless elements.

The AFP recommended another year-long extension of martial law in the above-mentioned island in a bid to totally neutralize terror groups still operating in Mindanao.

Earlier, MalacaAang said it would depend on the recommendation of the AFP on whether martial law will be extended after the end of the year. Martial law in Mindanao was declared on May 23, 2017 following attacks launched by the Maute Group in Marawi City.

The House of Representatives, in a special joint session in July last year, granted the extension of martial law until Dec. 31, 2017 at the President's request.

In another joint session in December 2017, granted the Chief Executive's request for the extension of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus for a period of one year from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2018. (with reports from Christopher Lloyd Caliwan/PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency