Despite the impending lifting of martial law in Mindanao, a high-ranking military officer yesterday said that an attack as destructive as the Marawi City siege in 2017 “will never happen again” as the strength of terrorists in the country has greatly diminished.
Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said relentless operations against the Abu Sayyaf Group, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, Daulah Islamiyah, and other lawless elements will continue despite the non-extension of the martial rule in Mindanao.
“Our security posture will remain the same and our security operations against various threat groups will continue,” he said.
Mindanao was placed under the martial rule on May 23, 2017 when the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)-inspired Maute terror group and ASG leaders laid siege on Marawi. It has been extended thrice since then. With the non-extension of the martial law, it is set to expire on New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31.
Sobejana confirmed that they are monitoring eight foreign terrorists in Mindanao, while the reported presence of 60 others is still being validated.
However, he said the terrorists will not be able to carry out an attack as destructive as the Marawi siege since most of them are “on the run” and the can only do lone attacks such as the use of Improvised Explosive Devices.
“Marawi City-like attack will never happen again. The strength of the terrorist groups in our country has been diminished significantly,” Sobejana stated. “We will confine the problem particularly the Abu Sayyaf, the BIFF, the Daulah Islamiyah here in Western Mindanao,” he added.
The Westmincom chief said they are optimistic to meet the demand of President Duterte to eliminate the ASG by the end of his term in 2022.
“It has been announced that martial law will not be extended but we have other interventions that we could use to fight the threat groups,” he said. (Martin Sadongdong)