Officials seek martial law extension to secure Marawi rehab efforts

MANILA -- The head of the inter-agency group tasked to lead the rebuilding efforts in Marawi City and an Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) official on Friday said they will support the extension of martial law in Mindanao amid intelligence reports that Islamic State (IS)-linked terrorists are stepping up recruitment activities in the region.

In a Palace briefing, both Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council chairperson Eduardo del Rosario, concurrently head of Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM), and ARMM Assemblyman Zia Alonto Adiong said they believed that martial law in Mindanao should be extended to secure the rehabilitation efforts and to protect the civilians from the ongoing terrorist threats.

President Rodrigo Duterte declared the entire Mindanao under martial law on May 23, 2017 after IS-inspired terrorists laid siege in Marawi City.

Congress, in a special joint session, granted the extension of martial law until December 31 on President Duterte's request.

Del Rosario said it is really very important that the government continue to ensure that Marawi City and the whole of Mindanao will be secured from any terrorist threat, more especially now given the intel report.

Umuugong na ngayon at nakuha natin from intelligence reports 'yung massive recruitment na ginagawa nung kabila, promising so much amount of money as high as PHP100,000 just to be recruited and be a member of the ISIS group, he said.

As chair of TFBM, he said he would like martial law to continue during the rehabilitation phase to secure the whole rehabilitation effort.

Just imagine, if something will happen in Marawi City during the rehabilitation phase, baka wala nang pumuntang mga contractors at laborers. Mahihirapan tayo sa rehabilitation, Del Rosario said.

He said the rehabilitation is not just restricted to physical structures but should also involve the participation and support of the entire citizenry of Mindanao.

And that's not only in the physical structure but in the security aspect. Kailangan sila mismo, they should drive away or neutralize 'yung spread ng recruitment ng ISIS group in Mindanao, not only in Lanao del Sur or Marawi City, Del Rosario said.

His sentiments were supported by Adiong who said that the reports they have been receiving showed that the IS recruitment activity is now ongoing in several towns.

As a local, I would say the end of the war does not necessarily mean the normalcy of the peace and order situation. Actually, we've been saying this all along --- the crisis will really start after the war, he said.

So, we fear that if we'll probably be lenient about imposing security protocols, the terror group might use this as a portal to form and regroup again and then attack another town. They will attack another town, not necessarily Marawi City or Lanao del Sur but maybe some provinces, Adiong said.

If I would be asked right now, I think the necessity of maintaining martial law dictates that kailangan talaga dahil meron pockets of recruitment na nangyayari diyan surrounding the lake, he added.

However, both officials said that the final recommendation for the lifting or extension of martial is up for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to make to President Rodrigo Duterte.

We will be coordinating with the AFP and the PNP so we can properly assess and make the necessary recommendation to the President as to the extension or not of the martial law in affected areas, Del Rosario said.

He said that they would also consult with the local government units where the recruitments are reportedly happening.

We do not like to have another Marawi incident, Del Rosario said.

Source: Philippine News Agency