The extension of martial law in Mindanao is essential to completely curb threats from sympathizers of the Maute-Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS), the Department of National Defense (DND) said on Sunday.
“It will help us to continue our momentum in our campaign against the Daesh [Arabic word for ISIS] and their sympathizers and not to do so will allow them to regroup again. [And] as you know, there have been reports that they are recruiting already in the Lanao area, so I think this will help curb their activities on the ground,” DND Public Affairs chief Arsenio Andolong said in an interview.
“If we dont have martial law, it will be very difficult for the rehabilitation of Marawi and the other war torn areas in the area,” he added.
“We’re going to move logistics ano ’yung mga equipment, pagka sila’y nakakaikot ng malaya d’un, they can hamper ’yung pagre-rebuild natin di ba, kasi paano natin matutuloy ’yun eh kung hindi natin ma-secure yung area, papunta pa ’yung mga engineers natin e baka ma-ambush na ”yung mga gan’un ba,” Andolong said.
When asked whether terror threats remain in Mindanao, Andolong said “there is a threat. In terms of seriousness kasi relative ’yun sa iba-ibang areas eh, pero meron, it is there, it is credible.”
On July 23, Congress, voting 261-18, extended martial law in Mindanao until year-end.
In October Lorenzana announced the end of the five-month long conflict between government forces and Maute terrorists in Marawi City following the death of top terrorist leaders Omar Maute and Isnilon Hapilon.
Andolong, meanwhile, echoed Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s stand saying there would be no holiday ceasefire with Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).
“Nagsalita na si Secretary Lorenzana dyan that he is not inclined to declare a suspension of military operations this Christmas because it will give them [NPA] a chance also to continue their attacks on our outpost, they are taking potshots at our troops and policemen and he does not relish that.