Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Carlito Galvez on Friday flaunted the supposed economic and tourism gains in Mindanao because of martial law.
“Martial law has led to increased tourist and economic activity in Mindanao, especially in areas previously thought of as inaccessible to visitors from Luzon and Visayas,” he told reporters in his prepared speech ahead of a press conference.
Because of the improved security, the AFP Chie of Staff said it was “no longer unusual” to find tourists in conflict areas like Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi.
“The development created more jobs and empowered residents to become active players in the peace and security of their communities,” he said.
Mindanao was first placed under martial law in May 2017 after fighting broke out in Marawi City. About 1,000 people have been killed from the five-month siege, while hundreds of thousands were displaced.
Martial law will continue until the end of 2018 after it has been extended twice by Congress last year.
Early this week, Galvez said they are eyeing the possibility to recommend another extension of martial law in Mindanao.
“Despite the opposition (of) some groups, we have been clear from the very beginning of our intentions. Our actions so far have proven them wrong,” Galvez said.
The AFP chief also expressed hope that terrorists will be irrelevant by next year after their supposed successes in 2018.
“A total of 5,685 loose firearms were surrendered in Mindanao. Movements of known terrorist groups such as the New People’s Army, Maute Group, and the ASG have also been constricted,” Galvez noted.
“In Eastern Mindanao alone, 11,333 CPP-NPA members and supporters have been given an opportunity to experience a more peaceful and productive way of life. They are joined by over 300 members of local terrorist groups, 572 of which are ASG, who chose to abandon their illegal activities in exchange for reformation and reintegration,” Galvez also said. /kga
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