Military suggests lifting of martial law in Zamboanga City, Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del Sur, and North Cotabato

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ZAMBOANGA CITY — The Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) has recommended the exclusion of this city and three Mindanao provinces, in case Malacañang decides to extend the imposition of martial law next year.

Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Westmincom chief, said Friday he made the recommendation emphasizing there are no terrorists “that exist here and this city is a peaceful place”.

“This city is relatively peaceful. Meron naman tayong magandang (We have good) security in place in close coordination with the local government. Nakita naman natin na ang (We noticed that the) local government ay (is) very cooperative with our peace efforts,” Sobejana said.

Sobejana also proposed the exclusion of Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del Sur, and North Cotabato under the martial rule in the event it was extended.

Meanwhile, Councilor Josephine Pareja has expressed concerns over Sobejana’s proposal, saying it could jeopardize the city’s security.

Pareja, the chairperson of the City Council’s Committee on Peace and Order, said the exclusion of Zamboanga City could even lessen the troops in this city as they might be transferred to other areas.

Currently, this city is home to two battalions–one Army and one Marines–that are under the operational control of the Task Force Zamboanga.

“My worry is that the implementation of the security measures might loosen or the troops will be pulled out in this city and reassigned to other places,” Pareja said.

She said that this city remains under threat from lawless elements, especially the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).

She noted that four alleged ASG bombers were arrested while explosives and bomb-making components were seized on September 26 in Barangay Baliwasan. (PNA)