MANILA— The Armed Forces of the Philippines on Monday said the full cooperation of the public will play a big part in determining at what time martial law could be lifted in Mindanao.
This was stressed by AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla during the Mindanao Hour press briefing in Malacañang.
Mindanao Hour, launched Monday, is a daily authoritative update on what is happening on the ground in Marawi City and relevant regions in Mindanao that aims to provide the public with carefully vetted news from authoritative sources.
Padilla said the secret to expediting the lifting of martial law is the full cooperation of the public.
“That is why we keep on calling for public cooperation because, you know, the secret to all this is to have the cooperation of the public. If the full cooperation of our citizens in the whole of Mindanao is obtained, then we can expedite the process of securing Mindanao on a daily basis,” he said.
However, he stressed that “cooperation should be 100 percent,” and that government “cannot have a few still errantly doing their ways.”
“So kung lahat tayo nagtutulungan, lahat tayo nagkakaisa dito, mas napapabilis po ‘yung proseso na ibalik sa normal ang buong ka-Mindanaoan,” Padilla said.
In the meantime, he assured that the AFP, like President Rodrigo Duterte, remains committed to restoring law and order in Mindanao the soonest time possible.
Padilla said the restoration of law and order is one of the most important consideration, along with any remnants of resistance within Marawi City.
“In the absence of any more resistance, there is no reason to have our presence there but just to keep the security and we will transfer the control of the city to our civil authorities. But we will work closely with them to ensure that the security of the city is not compromised. So those are the two most important elements that we see as non-contestable and non-negotiable,” he said.
“But be that as it may, the commitment remains that we do this as quick as possible, just like what the President said. And if we can finish this in one month, then so be it. We end martial law right there and then,” Padilla said.
The conflict in Marawi erupted on May 23 following violent clashes between government forces and members of the Maute terrorist group.
The ISIS-inspired terror group took over a hospital in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, established several checkpoints within the city, burned down certain government and private facilities and inflicted casualties on the part of government forces.
Its members were even shown flying the flag of the Islamist State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in several areas of the city.
This prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to place Mindanao under martial law for a period of 60 days on the grounds of invasion and rebellion.
The declaration of martial law was done through Proclamation No. 216, which Duterte signed on May 23 while he was still in Russia.
According to official figures released by Malacañang, fighting in Marawi City have led to the killing of 61 Maute terrorists.
Meanwhile, the government have lost 18 of its forces — 15 military and 3 police personnel.
The number of civilians killed in the conflict was pegged at 19, all in the hands of the terrorists.