AFP chief to recommend lifting martial law in Mindanao once rebel forces are reduced

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 29) — The validity of the extension of martial law in Mindanao continues to be a hot topic in the Supreme Court.

In a hearing Tuesday, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Benjamin Madrigal Jr. gave the condition in which the military will recommend lifting martial law-- when the rebel forces have been reduced to a level that can be handled by ordinary law enforcement.

"We would gladly recommend the lifting of martial law if we attain that," Madrigal said.

He explained that this would entail the reduction of enemy forces to 30 percent of its current strength, firearms, resources and support system.

Brigadier General Pablo Lorenzo said this was the level when threat groups "can no longer impose their will on the people or no longer effective in far as attaining their political objective is concerned."

This was echoed by Solicitor General Jose Calida, who argued in favor of the administration's position that martial law is currently needed in Mindanao.

"If the military can degrade the rebels up to 70 percent, maiwan yung 30 percent capability (would be left), then they will recommend that martial law be terminated," Calida said.

The oral arguments on the validity of the extension of martial law in Mindanao will continue on February 4.