MANILA, Philippines – With the goal of "total eradication" of Islamic State-inspired terror groups in Mindanao, President Rodrigo Duterte asked Congress to extend martial law in the region by one year.
In his letter, sent to media on Monday, December 11, Duterte requested that martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus be extended from January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018.
The 5-month martial law extension Congress had granted Duterte previously expires on December 31 this year.
Duterte explained that he wants martial law extended "primarily to ensure total eradication of Daesh-inspired Da'awatul Islamiyah Waliyatul Masriq (DIWM), other like-minded Local/Foreign Terrorist Groups (L/FTGs) and Armed Lawless Groups (ALGs), and the communist terrorists (CTs) and their coddlers, supporters, and financiers."
The President also revealed that both the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) recommended a one-year martial law extension.
The recommendations are "supported" by security assessments of the AFP and the PNP, said Duterte.
"Despite the death of Hapilon and the Maute brothers, the remnants of their groups have continued to rebuild their organization through the recruitment and training of new members and fighters to carry on the rebellion," said the President.
The remaining members of the ISIS-inspired groups are supposedly reorganizing and recruiting in Central Mindanao, specifically in Maguindanao, Sulu, Basilan, and North Cotabato, said Duterte.
"These activities are geared towards the conduct of intensified atrocities and armed public uprisings in support of their objective of establishing the foundation of a global Islamic caliphate and of a Wilayat not only in the Philippines but also in the whole of Southeast Asia," said the President.
He specified the activities of the Turaifie Group, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, and Abu Sayyaf Group.
The President alleged that the Turaifie Group is planning bomb attacks, targeting the Cotabato area, based on monitoring by security agencies.
The group is being led by "Turaifie," likely referring to Esmail Sheikh Abdulmalik alias "Abu Turaifie," as Isnilon Hapilon's "potential successor" as emir of the ISIS' Wilayat in the Philippines and Southeast Asia.
Meanwhile, Duterte said the New People's Army (NPA), armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), "took advantage" of the preoccupation of security forces with the Marawi crisis by intensifying "terrorist acts against innocent civilians and private entities, as well as guerrilla warfare against the security sector and public and government infrastructure."
Their purpose, said Duterte, is to "seize political power through violent means and supplant the country's democratic form of government with communist rule."
Duterte also said an extension would help the government rehabilitate war-torn Marawi and promote "stable socio-economic growth and development." – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.