President Duterte is taking pride that there was supposedly zero human rights abuse during the implementation of martial law in Mindanao from 2017 to 2019. In his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA), the President has attributed the absence of rights abuses to the love of country among the government forces who implemented the security measure. Martial law in Mindanao, first imposed in 2017 after the Maute group-led terror siege in Marawi City, expired last December. “Certain sectors expressed concerns when I declared martial law in Mindanao and its extension three times. But 2019 ended without my office requesting any further extension,” Duterte said.

“Martial law in Mindanao ended without abuses by the civilian sector, by the police, by the military. It ended because this time I know that they know how to love the country,” he said. The President had earlier decided not to extend martial law in Mindanao following the weakening of the terrorist rebellion in the south. The Palace explained the President’s decision was based on the assessment of the security forces as well as defense advisers that the terrorist and extremist rebellion have been weakened as a result of the capture or neutralization of their leaders as well as the decrease in index crime.

In May 2017, the President imposed a 60-day martial law in Mindanao shortly after the Islamic State-linked militants attacked Marawi City and took hostages. The proclamation has been extended by Congress three times or until December 2019 to quell the threats of rebellion and lawless violence. The five-month conflict in Marawi, considered the longest battle in recent local history, has claimed hundreds of lives of terror suspects and displaced thousands of families from their homes. The rehabilitation works in the war-torn city are still ongoing.

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