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Public safety to lift Martial Law – Palace

By: Argyll Cyrus B. Geducos

Despite the dwindling number of enemies in the war-torn city of Marawi, Malacañang said yesterday that Martial Law will stay in Mindanao until public safety is guaranteed.

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella echoed President Duterte’s desire to lift Martial Law at the soonest possible time but expressed that public safety should be first guaranteed.

“As far as the Palace is concerned, the Executive branch wishes for all of this to end as soon as possible,” Abella said during the Mindanao Hour press briefing over Radyo ng Bayan yesterday.

“However po, ang bottomline pa rin po ng Martial Law is public safety. Public safety as mandated by the Constitution,” he added.

Abella also noted that due to the continued use of civilians as human shields by the terrorist groups and the use of mosques as staging areas and safe havens, there is no telling when Martial Law will be lifted.

“The provision of the Palace will be benchmarked po upon the agreement on whether or not public safety is already sufficiently guaranteed,” Abella said.

“Therefore, the schedule po for the lifting of Martial Law is whether or not it is already totally, completely guaranteed, or sufficiently guaranteed for the safety of the general public or not,” he said.

“So hindi po natin binibigyan ng timeline ‘yan. Ang atin pong indicator ay whether safe na po talaga ang publiko,” he added.

Duterte, through Proclamation No. 216, placed Mindanao under Martial Law due to the attacks in Marawi last May 23. He also suspended the privilege of the Writ of Habeas corpus on the entire island for 60 days.

Duterte had said that Martial Law in Mindanao will stay until the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police have informed him that the situation on the island has returned to normal.

The Armed Forces has reported significant developments, including the recovery and control of more strategic vantage points by advancing troops, in Marawi in the past few days.