Councilors ask Duterte to lift martial law in Davao City

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Military personnel patrol Davao City as it remains under martial law. (FILE PHOTO)

Davao City (CNN Philippines, August 7) — Members of the Davao City Council have passed a measure formally requesting Malacañang to free the city from military rule that covers all of Mindanao.

City councilors on Monday unanimously approved a resolution asking President Rodrigo Duterte, Davao's long-time mayor, to lift martial law in their area.

The recommendation came from the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) and the Police Regional Office 11, who said the city does not need to be under military rule as it enjoys a "very good peace and order situation." Presidential daughter and City Mayor Sara Duterte pushed for the proposal before the City Peace and Order Council, which she heads.

The President placed Mindanao under martial law on May 23, 2017 following the attack on Marawi City by local and international terrorists. This stretched into a firefight that ended in October 2017, but the entire island group remains under military rule until December this year. Congress has approved to extend martial law in Mindanao multiple times, upon the request of the Executive.

In a previous statement, Eastmincom Commander Lt. Gen. Felimon Santos said he supported the move to exempt the city from martial law, provided that all security forces currently in place and initiatives being implemented shall still be operational, to avoid giving terrorist groups an opportunity to stage another attack in any part of the city.

Police Director B. Gen. Marcelo Morales said separately that there has been a notable decrease in local crime volume and crime rate.

Mayor Duterte, in a previous gatherings, said martial law should only be enforced in areas where peace and order is unstable. Meanwhile, Davao City Police Office Chief Colonel Alexander Tagum said that local security measures will still be intensified with or without martial law.

“Nothing changes in the level of security operations that will be conducted by the Integrated Security and Safety Units in Davao,” Tagum said.

He added that counter-terrorism actions will continue, which include intercepting terrorist movements and propaganda.

“We will exchange best practices on preventing and countering terrorism and violent extremism conducive to terrorism with the active support of our people,” Tagum added.