Martial law needs to stay in parts of Mindanao to combat terrorism — military

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 17) — As government troops are in for the final push to end the Marawi crisis, a military official said martial law needs to continue in parts of Mindanao to combat terrorism.

"There is a greater threat here that needs to be addressed. The need for the maintenance of martial law in some parts is really important because of the existence of the network of these terrorist groups," Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Spokesperson Major General Restituto Padilla said on Tuesday, hours before President Rodrigo Duterte declared Marawi City liberated from terrorists.

With the war raging in the city, with some 20 Maute terrorists still in the main battle zone, Padilla said they need to intensify offensives against other terror groups in Mindanao, like the Maute, who have pledged allegiance to Islamic State (ISIS) or Daesh, including the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

"There have been a number of groups, some of them as few as five, who have pledged allegiance to the Daesh. These are the groups we are closely watching. One of the prominent groups that had the capability is the BIFF in certain parts of Maguindanao," he said.

Padilla said there remains a part of the network that continues to exist in places like Jolo, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan, Maguindanao and Cotabato, a threat that he said needs to be managed.

"Martial law has been a big help in terms of addressing threats that have been there all along," he said.

Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23 when the Marawi crisis started. It was extended until December 31, to contain a possible spillover of terror threat.

Padilla said they have yet to meet with Duterte on lifting martial law in Mindanao, where top security officials and local government officials will present to the President their recommendations.

To extend martial rule in the region, the President would need to go through Congress for approval.

He said the terror threat has to be addressed immediately to avoid a repeat of the Marawi crisis.

"It is something that we need to do to address quickly and adequately those threats that are looming on the horizon that may result to the harm of the innocent, like what happened in Marawi," he said.

The crisis in Marawi has killed 47 civilians and 163 government troops, displaced 359,680 civilians, while 847 terrorists have been killed.