Philippine soldiers stand guard in Marawi, Mindanao Island, on June 28, 2017 (Photo: AFP/VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has approved "in principle" the recommendation made by security forces to place southern Mindanao island under martial law for another year, the country’s defense chief said on December 5.

Earlier, Philippine Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana endorsed the recommendation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to extend the martial law. The Philippine National Police (PNP) also supported the one-year extension.

Lorenzana said the martial law was discussed on the sidelines of the cabinet meeting late on December 4.

However, the defense chief said nothing is final until President Duterte formally sends a letter to the Congress to ask for an extension.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said on the same day that President Duterte "is still studying" the recommendation of the security forces.

Local terrorists belonging to the Maute Group and Abu Sayyaf Group attacked Marawi City on May 23, 2017, prompting President Duterte to place the entire Mindanao under martial law for 60 days.

The current Philippine Constitution only allows the president to declare martial law for a maximum of 60 days. Any extension would require approval from the Congress.

In October 2017, the Philippine Government finally gained control of Marawi. More than 1,200 people were killed in the battle to retake the city that fell into ruin.-VNA