The head of the interagency task force overseeing the rebuilding of war-torn Marawi City wants martial law in Mindanao extended to secure rehabilitation efforts and foil attempts to recruit people into terrorist groups.
Bangon Marawi Task Force chair Eduardo del Rosario said “intelligence reports” suggest “massive” attempts by local Islamic State (IS) supporters to recruit people to their cause.
Del Rosario said some people are being offered amounts as high as P100,000 to entice them to join and this is a threat to the security of the rehabilitation effort.
“We do not like to have another Marawi incident,” Del Rosario said in a Palace press briefing.
“I would like martial law [to] continue during the rehabilitation phase because, as chair of Task Force Bangon Marawi, my main concern is the security of the whole rehabilitation effort,” he said.
President Duterte declared martial law over the whole of Mindanao on May 23 after IS-allied extremists attacked the city, but congressional approval of the move expires on Dec. 31 unless extended.
Del Rosario said any new eruption of violence would derail efforts to rebuild Marawi and could scare off contractors and workers.
“If something will happen in Marawi City during the rehabilitation phase, maybe no contractor or laborer would ever go there. Rehabilitation would be difficult,” he said.
Rehabilitation efforts need the support of the entire citizenry, he said “and that’s not only in the physical structure but in the security aspect.”
“[Local residents] themselves should drive away or neutralize the spread of the recruitment of the IS group in Mindanao, not only in Lanao del Sur or Marawi City,” he said.
He also said he would coordinate with the military and the police to properly assess the situation and make the necessary recommendation to the President on martial law.
Regional Assemblyman Zia Alonto Adiong agrees there is reason to extend martial law.
“If I [were] asked right now, [martial law] is really needed because there are pockets of recruitment happening surrounding [Lanao Lake],” Adiong said.
But he also said his recommendation to the President would depend on the assessment of the situation on the ground, which has yet to be completed.
Most of Marawi was reduced to rubble in the intense five-month battle for Marawi with 200,000 residents being displaced.