Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), just like the Philippine National Police (PNP), recommended to extend the martial law in Mindanao after reports of “increasing” threats of violence and extremism on Friday.
AFP spokesman Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla told the media that while the military was victorious in reclaiming the war-torn city of Marawi after 153 days, the threat of Maute fighters is not yet gone.
“They still remain to be a threat Although they have been significantly degraded in terms of capability and manpower, those who survived that siege still remain at large,” Padilla said.
According to Padilla, remaining supporters and members of the Maute group are using money to recruit more members which include children, women, and relatives of those who were slain in battle.
“Ito pong kanilang pag-re-recruit ay isang bahagi ng kanilang effort upang magpalakas uli at kanilang inaasahan na maaari sigurong bumawi, kaya’t nananatili pa rin silang isang banta sa seguridad lalo na ng Marawi at ayaw natin mangyari ito (Their recruitment is part of their efforts to be stronger and make a comeback, so they remain a threat to the security especially of Marawi, and that is we do not want to happen),” the spokesman elaborated.
More than that, Padilla also noted the threat of the now-declared terrorist group — New People’s Army (NPA) in the southern region.
“The increasing violence initiated by the Left is part of the reason why martial law may be needed in order to cover areas where potential terrorists may be hiding,” he said.
Padilla cited a 65% increase in violent activities involving the PNA at the start of the year, with 382 out of 617 coming from Eastern Mindanao, and 18 from Western Mindanao.
“There was a 2000% increase in the amount on the effect of he violent incidents on business alone — P2.4 billion per our estimate was the amount of establishments, assets of government construction companies and other business that have gone up in flames. It’s arson alone,” he added.
Apart from the Maute and the NPA, Padilla also mentioned other armed groups in Mindanao namely, the Abu Sayyaf Group and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.
Padilla then said that the AFP as a transparent organization, respects human rights and human lives.
“For the period that we have implemented martial law in the whole of Mindanao, if there were any serious offenses committed by the military, we’re open to any investigation,” he further said.