AFP in Marawi crisis: ‘End is almost there’
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will respect any Supreme Court (SC) ruling on his proclamation in Mindanao, Malacañang affirmed on Monday, May 29.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella gave the assurance days after Duterte remarked in a speech that “martial law will continue” until the military and the police say the Philippines is safe.
In a press conference, Abella clarified that Duterte is only saying that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) have the accurate information on ground.
“The president meant that those who are truly aware of the situation are the military and the police. This is not meant to bypass the Supreme Court (SC) of the legislative,” Abella said.
“It simply means to say that those who have true and accurate report on which he will depend on will be the military and the Philippine National Police,” he added.
On Tuesday, May 23, Duterte placed the entire Mindanao region under martial law in the wake of the confrontation between the government troops and Islamic State (IS)-linked local militants identified as the Maute Group in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur.
The 1987 Constitution states that the president of the Philippines may place the country under martial law or suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus “in case of invasion or rebellion.”
It also states that the SC may review the “sufficiency of the factual basis” of the proclamation or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus following an “appropriate proceeding filed by any citizen.”
Under Proclamation No. 216, Duterte ordered both the implementation of martial law and the suspension of privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao.
But in a speech on Saturday, May 27, Duterte said he “will not listen to others,” insisting that would only end martial law if the military and police say so.
“Until the police and the Armed Forces say the Philippines is already safe, this martial law will continue. I won’t listen to others,” Duterte told troopers of Joint Task Force Sulu at Camp Teodulfo Bautista in Jolo, Sulu.
Pointing out that the soldiers are the ones risking their lives, he remarking that justices and the lawmakers “don’t know what’s happening on the ground.”
Duterte went on to say, “The Supreme Court, the congressmen, they’re not here. Why, are they the ones risking their lives? Are they the ones suffering here? Are they – have they suffered the wounds of war? Are they the ones enduring this battle?”
‘End is almost there’
In the same press briefing, AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla confirmed that the security forces have regained “complete control” over Marawi City.
“We have complete control of the city, by the way, contrary to what is coming out in social media and other information, perhaps some fake news,” Padilla told reporters.
He also dismissed reports claiming that half of Marawi City is still under the control of militants.
“It is not true that half of the city is controlled by the rebels. Totally untrue. The Armed Forces and the police… — our forces are in complete control of the city, except for certain areas of the city where they continue to hold,” Padilla said, adding that clearing operations are still ongoing in the remaining Maute-controlled areas.
As of Monday, May 29, the military confirmed the number of casualties related to the Marawi crisis has reached 104 — 65 from the Maute group, 20 from the government forces, and 19 civilians.
Asked if the military would recommend the extension of martial law, Padilla responded: “We’re just starting martial law. We’re just on the second week so I cannot, as of this moment, give you an assessment on the need for its extension.”
Padilla, however, affirmed that military remains committed to ending the operations as quickly as possible.
“Our ground commanders have assured that the end is almost there… If we can finish this in one month, then so be it. We end martial law right there and then,” he said.
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