Malacañang on Monday confirmed that President Duterte had received the Department of National Defense’s (DND’s) recommendation on the martial law in Mindanao.
According to Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella, the recommendation was submitted to Duterte by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Thursday, July 13, and was now being studied by the President.
“The President will go through and will make a decision on the matter. As we all know, the President listens. He also considers not only the position of the military and the police, but also the interests of vital stakeholders,” Abella said during the Mindanao Hour briefing Monday morning.
Duterte, through Proclamation No. 216, placed Mindanao under martial law and suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus for 60 days due to the attacks staged by the pro-Islamic State Maute Group in Marawi City on May 23, 2017.
The 60-day period is set to expire on Saturday, July 22, two days before Duterte’s second State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA).
According to Abella, the President will most likely make his decision before his Proclamation No. 216 expires.
He also said that the primary consideration of the President on making the decision would be public safety, especially in concerned areas.
Abella however, was not able to provide details as to the recommendation of the DND, saying he had not read the report yet.
“We do not want to preempt the President’s decision. Let’s just wait for the President to make the final announcement,” he said.
“Hindi ko pa alam kung ano yung nirekomenda exactly (I do not know yet what the recommendation is exactly). I cannot comment on that. But again, like I said, it will be hinging on public safety and whether or not the threat can be duly addressed,” he added.
Abella said in an earlier statement that the extension or lifting of martial law would be “based solely on the assessment and recommendation of the military and the police.”
He also assured the public that Duterte will take national interest into the highest consideration before deciding on the fate of martial law in Mindanao.
“We assure all our citizens that the primordial consideration of our Commander-in-Chief is the national interest. He is also for the immediate restoration of the rule of law, peace, order, and the overall safety and well-being of our citizens not only in Marawi but in the whole country,” he said.
AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla earlier explained the process on how the recommendation will reach the President.
He said the recommendation, after thorough assessment of the situation by the ground commanders, would be given to AFP Chief-of-Staff Eduardo Año who will then do his vetting on the recommendation.
Año will turn over the recommendation over to Lorenzana, who is also the Martial Law Administrator, for his inputs before submission to Duterte.
PNP chief Director General dela Rosa expressed his desire to have martial law extended but Padilla on Friday morning said that Dela Rosa’s input was just one of the many being considered in the report.
As of July 16, 2017, AFP had reported a total of 45 civilians, 97 government troops, and 405 terrorists killed in the war.
Duterte earlier reiterated that he will heed the recommendation of the AFP as the armed forces know best the situation in the war-torn city of Marawi.
“I do not have an independent study of what, how things are on the ground. It’s not my job. And I cannot do it physically even,” Duterte had said.
Duterte had also defended his decision to declare martial law in Mindanao.
He recalled how Año and Lorenzana informed him that the situation in Marawi City was already critical while they were in Moscow, Russia for an official visit last May 23.
According to Duterte, he had to declare martial law in the entire Mindanao, not just in Marawi City, to prevent a spillover or a possible simultaneous uprising.
“A spillover could create more trouble for us. So to prepare for a spillover or a simultaneous uprising, it has to be Mindanao,” he said.