AFP Intelligence chief: Over 3,500 elements still threaten country's security

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 17) — The military revealed on Wednesday there are still over 3,500 combined elements threatening security in the country, which warrants the extension of martial law in Mindanao.

Armed Forces of the Philippines Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence Maj. Gen. Fernando Trinidad said these include communist rebels, Dawlah Islamiyah, Bangsamoro Freedom Fighters, and the Abu Sayyaf group.

Trinidad revealed the figures during the second round of oral arguments on the extension of martial law in Mindanao at the Supreme Court, saying the measure will bolster efforts to destroy the ongoing rebellion and facilitate the restoration of public order and safety.

"The AFP is appealing for the extension of martial law and suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus for one year," Trinidad said in his presentation.

"This appeal is not intended to gain any extra power for the AFP, but to hasten the accomplishment of the AFP's mandated task in securing the safety of our people in Mindanao particularly, the whole world in general," he added.

Trinidad also said the Maute group, led by Owayda Marohomsar, has intensified its recruitment efforts in Lanao del Sur, and that they are planning bombings in the cities of Zamboanga, Iligan, Cagayan de Oro, and Davao.

AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Leonardo Guerrero said martial law added enhanced authority to the military, as they are permitted to arrest rebels even without warrants.

Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, however, enumerated successful military and police operations that did not need martial law, which included the arrest of the perpetrators of the Davao market bombing and the killing of Malaysian terrorist Marwan.

Leonen was the lone justice who voted against the proclamation of martial law in Mindanao.

Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe also asked Guerrero why the second martial law extension is longer than the first, considering Marawi has already been liberated.

The AFP Chief of Staff said the Marawi crisis was only a part of the whole problem in Mindanao, and that they are not after additional power.

Martial law was declared in Mindanao on May 23 when ISIS-inspired Maute fighters attacked Marawi City, resulting in a war that took five months to end.

It was first extended up to December 2017 after the 60-day period provided by the Constitution lapsed, but Congress extended it to December 2018 upon the request of President Rodrigo Duterte.

CNN Philippines' Anjo Alimario contributed to this report.