MANILA — Philippine security forces cannot afford to let their guard down despite the defeat of ISIS-inspired Maute Group and their allies in Marawi City.
This was emphasized by Department of National Defense (DND) public affairs office chief Arsenio Andolong when sought for a comment regarding plans to extend martial law in Mindanao.
“It is the AFP who can best determine whether existing conditions in the areas covered by martial law warrant its extension,” he added.
“Having said that, however, we must keep in mind that there are still remnants of the violent extremists and their supporters who desecrated Marawi City that are still at large. Their networks are still active and we cannot afford to let our guard down. Our pursuit of them must continue,” Andolong stressed.
An estimated 933 Maute Group terrorists and their allies were reported killed in the five-month campaign to retake the city from the lawless elements.
On the other hand, 165 government troopers and 47 civilians were also killed in the conflict which started after security operatives tried to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader and ISIS emir in Southeast Asia Isnilon Hapilon last May 23.
Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte said extension of martial law in Mindanao would depend on the recommendation of the military and police.