Lacson: Lift 'toothless' Mindanao martial law once stronger anti-terror law is passed

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 13) — The martial law which has been in place in Mindanao for more than two years is "toothless," Senator Panfilo "Ping" Lacson said Tuesday.

He made the statement as he asked security officials to make good on their promise to recommend the lifting of Mindanao martial law once the Human Security Act is amended to provide stronger measures against terrorism.

"This is much, much, much, much stronger than the martial law that you are using now, which of course we all know is a toothless martial law," Lacson quipped.

"Panakot lang naman kayo doon sa Mindanao. Psywar lang, wala rin naman kayong magawa," he said, adding that they are still bound to certain limitations under the Human Security Act.

Among the amendments being pushed by Lacson is increasing the number of days suspected terrorists can be detained without a warrant of arrest – from three days to up to 14 days. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who was present during the hearing, wants the reglementary period further extended to 60 days.

Lorenzana previously said he will recommend the lifting of martial law in Mindanao to President Rodrigo Duterte once the law is passed.

Duterte first declared martal law in the southern third of the country in May 2017, in response to the attack of local and international terrorists on Marawi. Congress has since granted all three requests for an extension, as Duterte argued the need for military rule to quell the rebellion in Mindanao.

Martial law stays until yearend, but National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon earlier bared plans to recommend another year-long extension, until December 31, 2020.