Esperon: Martial law extension in Mindanao a 'last resort'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 8) —  Extending martial law in Mindanao should be a "last resort", National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon said Thursday.

In a media briefing in Malacañang, Esperon noted that talks of an extension is not a priority, despite calls of some Mindanaoans for it to push through.

"We would like to think that the extension of martial law is the last-resort basis," Esperon said.  "(But) majority of the people in Mindanao want it."

"It is an instrument for us that will be considered as last resort, but if it is needed, then so be it. Susundin natin 'yun. (We will follow it)"

Palace officials earlier said the decision whether to extend martial law would depend upon the recommendation of the security cluster-- particularly the police and military on the ground.

While there is no recommendation or decision yet, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief Carlito Galvez Jr. noted several local government units in the region are in favor of the extension.

"Apparently, most of the local government units are in favor of the martial law in eastern and western Mindanao," Galvez added during the briefing.

Martial law was declared in Mindanao in May 2017 following the attempted takeover by ISIS-inspired Maute Group of Marawi City in Lanao del Sur. The declaration lapsed on July 23 that year, before Congress first voted to extend martial law until the end of December 2017.

The Philippine National Police on Monday meanwhile said it will support another extension of the rule, should President Rodrigo Duterte decide to extend it again.