Lawyers’ group hits out at martial law enforcers

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THE Integrated Bar of the PhilippinesLanao del Sur Chapter has criticized martial law implementors for committing illegal searches and seizures and massive looting of civilian properties in Marawi City.

In a three-page statement submitted to the Supreme Court by petitioners seeking to nullify President Rodrigo Duterte’s martial law proclamation in Mindanao, the IBP in Lanao del Sur through its president Aminoden Macalandap, accused the military and the police of committing crimes, while implementing martial law and fighting Maute terrorists.

The lawyers’ group expressed “severe outrage and condemnation over illegal searches and seizures in Marawi City by military men, police and other law enforcement agencies which results in rampant loss and deprivation of properties and possessions of innocent civilians.”

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THE Philippine Constitution Association, through its Board of Governors and Officers, manifested its support of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Proclamation No. 216 declaring martial law and suspending habeas corpus in Mindanao.

Philconsa president Martin Romualdez regrets that some sectors have questioned Proclamation 216, notwithstanding that the great majority of the people and Congress have expressed their wholehearted support of Proclamation No. 216.

Chairman Manuel Lazaro remarked the unfolding of the horrendous or heinous activities of Maute/IS every day since the Proclamation have justified and warranted the judicious wisdom and propriety of President Duterte’s actions.

Romualdez and Lazaro intoned: “Now is the time for all citizens to stand united in support of President’s Duterte’s fight against the Maute/IS rebels to secure the safety of the people and the very existence of the state.”

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“As shown in video footages and pictures posted in social media, military men who committed these criminal acts in public exhibited no remorse,” the statement signed by Macalandap said.

The IBP chapter lamented the “rampant loss of valuable personal belongings of innocent and helpless civilians” as a result of the alleged “wholesale illegal searches and seizures-unparalleled in its magnitude for even the Marcos years of martial rule pales in comparison.”

Members of the police special forces check vehicles at a checkpoint near the entrance to Marawi, on the southern island of Mindanao, days after Muslim extremist attacked the city. Philippine troops aboard helicopters and in armoured tanks battled Islamist militants inside a southern city on May 25, as reports emerged of the gunmen murdering civilians. AFP file photo

The local lawyer’s group also said it has received numerous reports of forced entries of private residential and commercial establishments without search warrants even though these places bore no badge of suspicion of having links with the Maute terrorist group.

It claimed that forced entries were done “without the presence of the media, the owners or any authorized persons” with the police and military showing “total disregard of plain view doctrine of searches and seizures activities.”

“And yet, no one raises a voice of dissent,” the group said.

Because of this, the IBP chapter called on martial law administrator, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, to “immediately stop searches and seizures without court warrants.”

It also asked Lorenzana to “create a credible multi-agency investigation committee composed of independent groups and individuals to avoid whitewash and ensure impartial findings and swift prosecution.”

While the group assured that they support the declaration of martial law in Mindanao, it  said that it “has not closed its eyes on any forms of abuses committed in the implementation thereof.”

The chapter warned of taking legal actions should the martial law implementors fail to act on this issue.

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