The Daily Manila Shimbun


Palace assures alleged martial law abuses to be stopped, punished

June 13, 2017

Malacanang assured on Tuesday alleged abuses committed by police and the military in Lanao del Sur, including Marawi City, would be addressed immediately. In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said President Rodrigo Duterte appreciates the support of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Lanao del Sur Chapter for its support on his declaration of martial law in Mindanao. "However, he also ensures them concerns over alleged excesses will be quickly addressed and all abuses will be stopped and punished," he said. Lanao del Sur lawyers claimed to receive first-hand data and information regarding the violations of the rights by some members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police in the province and in Marawi, where clashes have been ongoing between the government security forces and the Islamic State-link Maute Terror Group for three weeks. Duterte has declared martial law in the whole of Mindanao when rebellion broke out in Marawi on May 23. Abella said the AFP leadership would look into the allegations of abuses. At the same time, while the government had the information beforehand that the Maute would attack Marawi, Abella said it was something that had "to be vetted and to be authorized properly." When Maute started attacking Marawi, Duterte and most of his Cabinet members, including security officials, such as National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, were in Russia. The trip was even branded by some individuals to be a "junket" by some government officials. Duterte had to cut short his visit in Moscow because of the Marawi incident. "There were details regarding the Marawi plot, yes. And that is exactly why they took advantage --- they started to take action," Abella admitted. Abella insisted that the government security forces still immediately acted. "Well, we need to also take note of the fact that the early action of the military and the government has actually preempted their plans to be able to capture the city... were it for the early and decisive action of the military, then it would have been --- it could have been worse," he said. While some security officials joined Duterte in Russia, Abella said they were all on top of the situation. "They were actually monitoring let’s give them credit, let’s give credit to the military and understand that they were actually acting purposively and decisively and actually preempted. I think the keyword is 'preempted',” he stressed. "So I think it’s not a question of being failure or what --- from their point of view… From our point of view, we were able to stop something that could have been much, much bigger," he added. (Celerina Monte/DMS)