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Palace: Martial Law prevented wilayat

By: Genalyn D. Kabiling

A month after the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao, the government is trumpeting its success in preventing the establishment of an Islamic State province in Marawi City.

Government forces have foiled the plot of the Islamic militants to set up an operational base in Marawi as well as thwarted the spillover of terrorism in Eastern Mindanao, according to officials.

“We do not go by ratings but we do say that we have actually preempted the establishment of a wilayat (province)…so the main goal of preventing is actually, has already been, I believe hugely successful,” presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said during the Mindanao Hour briefing in Davao City yesterday.

Abella said the country has also entered a maritime security alliance with Indonesia and Malaysia “so this will not recur.” The three countries earlier agreed to step up border patrols to curb terrorism, piracy, and other transnational crimes in the common seas.

“The three countries have agreed to work together to jointly develop and implement counterterrorism and measures and strategies. Let us underline that their joint aim, the end game is to prevent the establishment of operational bases in Southeast Asia,” Abella said.

Last May 23, the President placed Mindanao under Martial Law for 60 days following the deadly siege of the local armed groups, aided by foreign militants, in Marawi. The martial rule, which authorized the military to conduct warrantless arrests and searches, was aimed to quell lawless violence and rebellion in the South.

To date, Abella said government troops continue to clear Marawi of remnants of the armed terrorists as well as rescue trapped residents, including those held hostage.