DAVAO CITY—Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio said she would would recommend to Malacañang a localized imposition of martial law, which is still effective in Mindanao two years after it was imposed to contain the movement of local and foreign terrorists in Marawi City.
Duterte-Carpio issued the statement in response to the inquiry of European ambassadors and ranking embassy officials who attended this year’s investment conference.
She met the European diplomats in a separate room at the sidelines of the investment conference at the SMX Convention Center here.
She said the recommendation would be done through a resolution of the City Peace and Order Council which will also ask the Office of the President to exempt this city following the return to normalcy of the security situation in many areas of Mindanao.
Mihail Bujor Sion, Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy of Romania, said that while his compatriots here have made a positive impression of the impact of martial law, other Europeans have little knowledge of what happened here and were expected to carry the usual impression of what martial law denotes.
He said he believed that more European visitors and tourists would be glad to go around to more places in Mindanao “to enjoy its nature” if they would know that these were not under martial law.
“We understand the concern of foreigners, especially seeing the military in the cities. We understand that there are questions if they have overtaken the function of the police,” the mayor told Ambassador Franz Jessen of the European Union and the other ambassadors of European countries.
She clarified that the Army was only there in the cities to augment the police and to enhance security visibility.
She said there was a general feeling of security, at least in Davao City, with the increased presence of uniformed personnel, citing the reduced incidence of common crimes and the containment of terrorists’ activities in other areas of Mindanao.
Duterte-Carpio said the security situation has improved significantly since 2017, when Marawi came under siege from the Maute Group and key leaders of the Abu Sayyaf, including the late Isnilon Hapilon, who was then tagged anointed emir for Southeast Asia of the Middle East-based Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Hapilon and Omar Maute, one of two sons commanding the Maute Group, were slain in October 2017 signalling the end of their siege of Marawi.
President Duterte asked Congress for authority to extend martial law to contain any further coordinated movements by local and foreign terrorists seeking to mount another siege in any part of Mindanao.
While martial law remained controversial and continued to be a concern among foreigners, Duterte-Carpio said the uncertainty among them was felt only for a brief period, about two months after it was imposed.
But the influx of visitors soon picked up after that, she said.