AFP, PNP recommend extension of martial law in Mindanao

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Updated with statements from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, senators

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 8) — Martial law in Mindanao must be extended. This is the recommendation of the armed forces and the national police to President Rodrigo Duterte, officials said Friday.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) wants the President to impose one more year of military rule in the south.

This is due to security threats and the ongoing rehabilitation of war-torn Marawi City, Department of the Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Catalino Cuy told CNN Philippines.

When asked what the basis for the one-year recommendation was, Cuy said in a text message: "(The) continuing threat from (the) terrorist groups and (the) rehabilitation of Marawi City."

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) likewise submitted its recommendation for an extension, its spokesperson said, but there is no information yet as to the length of time it is asking.

"I do not have the details as to the length but as far as I am concerned there is a recommendation to similarly support the recommendation of Philippine National Police," AFP Spokesperson Restituto Padilla said in a news briefing in Malacañang on Friday.

He said the recommendation has been submitted to Malacañang by Defense Secretary and martial law administrator Delfin Lorenzana.

Padilla said he is not privy to the contents of the recommendation, but said martial law is needed due to the threat posed by terrorist groups that attacked Marawi City led by the ISIS-inspired Maute group and the Abu Sayyaf group. 

"Those who survived that siege still remain at large and are attempting to recover by recruiting other members of the society," Padilla said.

He said the terrorists are recruiting vulnerable targets, such as students, children, women, and relatives of those killed in Marawi – more than 900 enemies and 47 civilians.

Task Force Bangon Marawi chairman, retired Major General Eduardo del Rosario earlier revealed intelligence reports that the remaining members of the Maute group are conducting "massive recruitment," offering as high as P100,000 to each recruit.

Related: Martial law needs to stay amid terrorists' 'massive recruitment' – officials

Padilla said martial law needs to stay also due to possible attacks by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), the New People's Army (NPA), and other Abu Sayyaf forces in Mindanao.

The NPA, along with its mother organization Communist Party of the Philippines, were recently declared by Duterte as a terrorist organization. This will be official once approved by a regional trial court, according to the Human Security Act of 2007.

Read more: CPP-NPA terrorist status moves forward with Justice Department's order

Minority senators oppose extension

Martial law in Mindanao is set to end on December 31.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte will make a decision before December 15 whether to lift or ask for martial law extension before Congress.

Congress, which has to give consent, will go on recess on the 15th.

Minority senators Bam Aquino, Franklin Drilon, Risa Hontiveros, Kiko Pangilinan, and Antonio Trillanes said they are ready to oppose any move to extend military rule in Mindanao beyond 2017. They questioned the police and military's recommendation.

"As security forces reign supreme during martial law, would not military rule actually get in the way of a people-centered rebuilding and rehabilitating of the once vibrant city," the senators said in a joint statement on Thursday.

The five-month war in Marawi which ended in October between government troops and the Maute terror group turned homes and buildings into rubble and displaced over 300,000 residents.

In a separate statement, Drilon said extending martial law "has no factual and legal basis and is patently unconstitutional."

"We cannot continuously place Mindanao under martial law and suspend the privilege of the writ without an actual rebellion in the region," Drilon said, citing Section 18, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution.

But for House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez of Davao del Norte, it would be best for military rule to stay until 2022, the end of Duterte's term.

"Alam mo dapat tanungin diyan mga taga-Mindanao. Kami. Kami yung directly affected. Para sa akin, kung puwede lang mag-martial law kami hanggang matapos yung termino ni Pangulo, 2022... para we feel safe," Alvarez told CNN Philippines' The Source on Thursday.

[Translation: "You know what, you should ask us Mindanaoans. We are directly affected. I prefer for martial law to stay until the President's term ends in 2022 so we'll feel safe."]

Meanwhile, other lawmakers said they will just wait for the AFP and PNP to brief them on the situation in Mindanao.

Senator Miguel Zubiri, who hails from Bukidnon, said he is "open to the proposal to extend martial law in our area of Mindanao. But I need to listen first to the briefing scheduled by the AFP and PNP before I can finalize my decision."

Martial law and alleged human rights violations

The continuance of military rule would only result in more human rights violations, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said.

"As of now numerous extra-judicial killings, forced evacuations, massacres and food blockades are happening in numerous provinces in Mindanao," Zarate said.

During the joint session of Congress last July 22, Commission on Human Rights chairperson Chito Gascon said they were receiving "more and more reports of possible human rights violations" in Mindanao.

A Maranao rescue worker even detailed some of these cases, including a 20-year-old child with autism allegedly tortured and interrogated if he was a member of the Maute.

Read more: Maranao turns emotional as she cites human rights violations in Marawi

In a more recent report, human rights group Amnesty International accused soldiers of torturing several civilians who escaped the main battle area in Marawi.

The AFP has promised to investigate human rights violations allegedly committed by government troops.

Read: AFP to probe allegations of torture by gov't forces in Marawi

Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23, following clashes between government troops and the Maute group in Marawi, the provincial capital of Lanao del Sur around 1,500 kilometers south of Manila.

On July 22, the 60-day period lapsed and Congress approved a request from the President to extend martial law until the end of the year.

CNN Philippines' Gerg Cahiles and Lara Tan contributed to this report.