MANILA—Incoming Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff and incumbent Southern Luzon Command head Lt. Gen. Ricardo Visaya is open to the proposal of declaring martial law in Sulu and Basilan as part of efforts to eliminate threats from the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).
“Declaration of martial law is always an option to restore order (in Sulu and Basilan) but it should be studied first,” he added.
Visaya said this could help the government in its campaign against the ASG menace those kidnapping attacks have skyrocketed in the past months.
“Martial law can be also an answer to prevent the ASG from continuing their kidnapping activities,” he added.
The incoming AFP chief stressed that they would complete staff studies on the matter before recommending the same to President-elect Rodrigo Duterte.
As of the moment, the AFP presence in Sulu is placed at 11 battalions but the force is having difficulty in trailing the bandits due to the difficult terrain.
Earlier, President Benigno S. Aquino III said he considered placing the entire province of Sulu in a bid to rescue the remaining Samal Island hostages being held by the ASG.
He added considered he considered this option when the ASG gave June 13 deadline where they threatened to behead Canadian hostage Robert Hall if ransom will not be paid for latter’s release.
Hall was beheaded last Monday while fellow Canadian John Ridsel was killed in April 25.
However, President Aquino said he did not push through his plan as he fear that it might draw sympathizers for the ASG in the area.