AFP spox: 5-year martial law 'too long'

Philippines: jihadists force children to fight
Kids and hostages forced to fight alongside Filipino militants in southern town, army says

11 July, 2017

Kabayan Party-list Rep. Harry Roque said if the President would decide to extend martial law in the south, he hoped it wouldn't be for long because he said it would not be good for the country's image.

He said a recommendation will be made to Duterte once the military is satisfied it has flushed out all terrorist elements from the region.

He added: "I don't know the basis of our Speaker for calling the extension of martial law because extending this is a political decision".

Duterte, who was forced to cut short a state visit to Russian Federation when fighting broke out in Marawi, potentially courted controversy with his declaration of martial law, a sensitive subject for most Filipinos.

"Speaker Alvarez has clarified that his remarks to extend martial law until 2022 is his personal opinion", Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement on Monday, July 10.

In the light of House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez dropping more than just hints tilting toward an extension of up to five years for the martial law declared over the whole of Mindanao, several quarters, not the least of which is the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), have come out with a perspective that is not entirely synchronous.

"It will be the armed forces and police who will say if it's no longer critical".

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Yet the urban warfare, despite being under a regime of martial law, has dragged on for seven weeks - surpassing the three-week siege of Zamboanga City in 2013.

Government offensives in Marawi City will enter its eighth week on Tuesday, July 11, but the Islamic State-linked terrorists have shown no signs of giving up despite relentless bombings and ground operations of state troops. The police and military had attempted to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, the supposed "emir" in the Philippines of worldwide terrorist group Islamic State.

The 1987 Constitution has set safeguards on martial law by limiting its enforcement to 60 days and allowing the Supreme Court and Congress to review the proclamation.

Displaced children stay at an evacuation center outside the city, as army troops continue their assault against insurgents from the Maute group, in Marawi, Philippines July 4, 2017.

"The structure which gives life to this rebellion is not only restricted to Marawi, which was only used by the terrorists as a base to launch its attacks", Padilla said.

More than 500 people have been killed in the fighting, including 89 soldiers and police, 39 civilians and 379 militants, according to figures released by the government on Monday.

About 300 civilians, including the terrorists' hostages, remain trapped in the battle zone, preventing state forces from going all-out against the enemies.

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