Mindanao military chief favors partial martial law enforcement

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    A MILITARY commander in eastern Mindanao yesterday said he is for a selective implementation of martial law, currently being enforced in the entire Mindanao, if it is going to be extended beyond December 31.

    Lt. Gen. Felimon Santos, commander of the Davao City-based AFP Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom), said some areas in eastern Mindanao, like Davao City, should be exempted from martial law because of improved peace and order situation.

    Eastmincom supervises all military operations in the Davao, Northern Mindanao and Caraga regions, and parts of the Soccsksargen region. The rest of Mindanao are under the control of the AFP Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) based in Zamboanga City.

    Santos said Davao City, President Duterte’s hometown, has been cleared of New People’s Army rebels.

    “We have cleared all the barangays (of the city), including Pacquibato (district) which is really a hotbed of the NPA before. It’s been cleared and progress is coming in,” he said.

    Davao City Mayor and presidential daughter Sara Duterte on Monday said she sent a letter to her father on August 7 asking him to exempt the city from martial law coverage. She also said she will send requests to the defense department and Congress.

    Santos said he supports the mayor’s position “because we have an improving peace situation” in the city.”

    Santos said he is for the selective implementation of martial law, if it is extended, “because there are still areas where we have problems” like Cagayan de Oro City and places that are near the areas of the Abu Sayyaf and other terrorist groups.

    On Sunday, Wesmincom commander Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said he is for the extension of martial but it should cover only the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), because of the lingering problem with the Abu Sayyaf, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, and the Maute Group.

    President Duterte declared martial law in the entire Mindanao on May 23, 2017 hours after Maute Group members attacked several barangays in Marawi City which is among the cities under BARMM.

    The armed conflict lasted five months and resulted in the death of about a thousand terrorists, 168 soldiers and policemen, and 47 civilians.

    The slain terrorists included Maute leaders Abdullah Maute and Omar Maute and Isnilon Hapilon, an Abu Sayyaf leader and reported ISIS leader for Southeast Asia.

    Martial law has been extended thrice by Congress, on the request of President Duterte, due to continuing terrorist threat. The last extension was in December last year, which is good until December 31 this year.

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