AFP spox: 5-year martial law 'too long'

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 10) — Military officials have yet to submit the recommendation on whether to extend or lift martial law in Mindanao. But this early, the military is hinting military rule should not last until 2022.

"Five years may be too long for the moment," Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Spokesperson BGen. Restituto Padilla said on Monday.

This was the military's response to House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez's statement that martial law should be extended for five years, as the 60-day limit looms.

 

Padilla said, although he was unaware of where Alvarez was coming from, he admitted declaring or extending martial law would be a political decision.

He said the military's recommendation would be based on information from troops on the ground. They will assess whether or not military operations in Marawi have been effective.

President Rodrigo Duterte said he would heed the advice of the military and police as to when martial law in Mindanao should be lifted.

Martial law was declared in Mindanao on May 23 as fighting broke out between government troops and the local terror group ISIS-linked Maute in Marawi City.

Under the 1987 Constitution, there are safeguards against the abuse of martial law, such as a review by Congress and a 60-day limit. The 60th day falls on July 22, two days before the President's State of the Nation Address.

Government troops continue to fight over 80 terrorists in Marawi City. The death toll has breached the 500 mark, with 39 civilians killed, 379 terrorists killed, and 89 government troops killed in action.

Kabayan Party-list Rep. Harry Roque said if the President would decide to extend martial law in the south, he hoped it wouldn't be for long because he said it would not be good for the country's image.

"While I am supportive of the President's declaration of martial law, I hope it will be for the shortest time possible. Martial law, even if warranted, even if there is factual basis for it, is never good for the country… This is never good for business. It is never good for tourism. It is never good for our international reputation," he said.

Members of the Senate majority bloc, meanwhile, said it would be easy to approve extending martial law in Mindanao if Duterte requested it.

Related: Majority bloc senators: Martial law extension will be easy to approve

The military is expected to submit its recommendation to Defense secretary and martial law administrator Delfin Lorenzana this week. The recommendation may land on Duterte's desk in just days.

This story was updated on July 11 to add the statement of Defense Secretary and martial law administrator Delfin Lorenzana.