Defense chief backs lifting of martial law in Mindanao if...

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Posted at Aug 09 2019 11:35 AM

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Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Friday that he will immediately recommend lifting the 2-year martial law in Mindanao if an anti-terrorism law is strengthened.

Lorenzana said lawmakers "promised" to amend the Human Security Act after he explained that police and soldiers are wary of arresting suspected terrorists because they can be fined P500,000 per day for wrongful detention.

"If they can pass an amended Security Act, immediately I am going to recommend the lifting of martial law," he told ANC.

He added that troops are hunting down 7 foreign terrorists in the south and it was "not yet" the right time to lift military rule.

Under martial law, the government can detain suspected terrorists for 3 days. Authorities in Australia can do this for 7 days, while their counterparts in Singapore detain suspected terrorists "indefinitely," noted Lorenzana.

President Rodrigo Duterte placed the entire island of Mindanao under martial law in May 2017 after Islamic State-inspired terrorists attacked and held the Islamic City of Marawi.

Military rule in Mindanao has since been extended twice, with the latest until the end of 2019, to quell terror groups that "continue to defy the government."

The President's daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, has sought the lifting of martial law in her turf, saying it had left some investors wary.

"The problem of lifting martial law in one area and not the others is that criminals go there and hide or seek refuge," said Lorenzana.

He said he will issue a recommendation on Davao City "in a week."

ANC, August 9, 2019