1 more year of Mindanao martial law eyed

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 23) — National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon will recommend another extension of martial law in Mindanao.

Esperon said military rule needs to stay for one more year, or until December 31, 2020, because of the sustained rebellion in the region.

"Meron kang CPP-NPA doon sa kanan—Davao, Surigao and dito sa BARMM," Esperon told reporters on Tuesday. The CPP-NPA refers to the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People's Army, which has waged a five-decade insurgency. Authorities have cited their presence in Mindanao, including in the newly constituted Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, as among the security threats.

Esperon said martial law will help authorities "have better control of [the] flow of population."

He said Davao City may be exempted from military rule, as requested by the mayor, presidential daughter Sara Duterte. Esperon said this can be done in more secure areas.

President Rodrigo Duterte first declared martial law in Mindanao in May 2017 as government forces fought with terrorists in Marawi City, capital of Lanao del Sur. More than a thousand were killed, mostly terrorists, during the five-month war that ended October 2017.

Congress has since granted all three requests for an extension as Duterte argued the need for military rule to quell the rebellion in Mindanao. Martial law stays until yearend, but a fourth extension is looming.

Malacañang on Tuesday said the President will follow the recommendation of security and defense officials.

"The President will listen to those who are knowledgeable on the facts existing on the ground," Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a media briefing.

Some human rights groups claim the military committed human rights violations during the implementation of martial law. Malacañang and the Armed Forces vowed to investigate these alleged abuses, calling on the victims to file complaints.

READ: Supreme Court denies 'with finality' petitions vs. martial law in Mindanao

CNN Philippines' AC Nicholls and Eimor Santos contributed to this report.