Defense chief tells Duterte martial law in south can now end

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine defense chief says he has recommended that the president not extend martial law in the country’s south, which was declared in 2017 to help troops quell a bloody siege by Islamic State group-aligned jihadists in Marawi city.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he told the president on Wednesday that Muslim militants have been weakened considerably and are no longer able to carry out an attack like the Marawi siege. President Rodrigo Duterte has extended the martial rule three times, and it is due to expire at year’s end.

Lorenzana said security conditions have improved in southern island provinces which used to be deeply troubled by the militants. He said ending martial law would encourage foreign investors who have stayed away from the south because of it.