By Francis Wakefield
Army officer and five enlisted personnel are currently being investigated for reportedly looting in the first few days of the Marawi siege, the military said Tuesday.
In an interview, Colonel Romeo Brawner, deputy chief of Joint Task Force Ranao, said the six reportedly took a television and other items which they intended to use for their unit. All the items have already been returned.
“I would like to correct myself on my earlier statement na na-charge na sila (that they were already charged). They are currently being investigated,” Branwer said.
“Apparently, they will use it for their unit. It’s not personal, but they were ordered to return the items,” he added.
Brawner said that revealing about the wrongdoing of some of their personnel only proves that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) doesn’t tolerate its men who violate the law.
“Hindi naman po namin tinatanggi na me ganun no but kinakasuhan natin at hindi namin ito tinotolerate (We don’t deny that such an incident happened but we already charged them and we don’t tolerate this),” Brawner said.
Brawner pointed out that when government forces entered Marawi City, most of the houses were already opened and already looted by the Daesh-inspired Maute Group.
“Nakabukas iyung mga bahay at topsy-turvy dahil po naniniwala kami na ang mga miyembro ng Maute-Isis ay talagang ginalugad nila yung mga bahay dahil gusto nila makakuha ng mga baril, mga bala, mga pera at mga alahas (The houses were already opened and already topsy-turvy because we believe that the Maute-ISIS already ransacked the homes to get firearms, bullets, money, and jewelry),” Brawner said.
“And this has been proven by a lot of accounts by hostages because even the hostages were forced to do those kind of things (looting),” he said.
Brawner said that before entering Marawi, soldiers were already warned not to take part in any looting or else they will face the consequences.
“So marami na tayong mga natanggap na (We already received lots of) complaints about looting. Unang-una talagang (First and foremost) even before the start of the siege, pagpasok pa lang ng sundalo natin (when our soldiers set foot), we warned them already not to loot kasi yun yung isang magiging problema (that will be a problem). In fact, nakahuli tayo ng ilang sundalo na nag- loot but nakasuhan na natin ito (we were able to capture some of them and were already charged),” he said.
Brawner, meanwhile, said the military will not resume offensive combat operations despite the killing of a Maute straggler on Tuesday.
A companion of the Maute straggler escaped and is currently being hunted by troops in the area.
“What we are doing right now are just clearing operations dahil nga yung (because the) resistance is really not that significant anymore,” Brawner said
Asked if the killing of the stragglers will affect the return of residents to their homes, Brawner said it will not. In fact today, residents in two barangays, Barangay Marawi and East Basak already returned to their homes, he said.
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