By Raïssa Robles
From the statement, it is clear that the soldiers there have not moved to operationalize Martial Law. They are still awaiting orders from their Commander-in-Chief, President Rodrigo Duterte.
One paragraph jumps out in this statement. It says that “the Maute and other groups have the capability, though limited, to disturb the peace.”
“As to the Marawi incident, the Government is in control of the situation and is fully aware that the Maute and similar groups have the capability, though limited, to disturb the peace; these have shown no hesitation in causing havoc, taking innocent lives, and destroying property as manifested yesterday in Marawi City.”
I leave the reader to make his own conclusion on the implication of that, in the context of the Martial Law declaration.
Earlier, I posted a piece asking –
Did President Duterte leave the country with nobody in charge?
I was told that Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno was left behind and in charge. Has anyone heard anything from Diokno since the fighting erupted in Marawi City?
Wesmincom’s statement shows there is a gap in the information and decision-making flow from Malacanang to the troops on the ground.
Below is the full statement from Wesmincom:
AFP Statement on the Declaration of Martial Law and the Marawi incident
Headquarters, Western Mindanao Command, Camp Navarro, Calarian, Zamboanga City- May 24, 2017
Our President, through Presidential Spokesperson Abella, declared last night “Martial Law” in the entire Mindanao for a period of 60 days.
During the Press Conference attended by DFA Secretary Cayetano, DND Sec Lorenza, and the Presidential Spokesperson Abella, the President called for such due to the developing situation in Marawi City yesterday and the impending volatile situation in other areas of Mindanao.
We are yet to get a written guidance as to how the declaration will translate to our operations on the ground, especially here at Western Mindanao, where all threat groups are present.
We are, however, assuring the public that we will use the current mandate to boost our campaign against terrorism.
And we will enforce our mandate in accordance with the law and with respect to human rights and the International Humanitarian Law.
I would like to specifically quote a part of Section 18, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution, which provides that:
“A state of martial law does not suspend the operation of the Constitution, nor supplant the functioning of the civil courts or legislative assemblies, nor authorize the conferment of jurisdiction on military courts and agencies over civilians where civil courts are able to function, nor automatically suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. The suspension of the privilege of the writ shall apply only to persons judicially charged for rebellion or offenses inherent in or directly connected with invasion.”
To our MNLF and MILF brothers, please be reminded that the declaration is done to suppress the rebellion brought about by the Maute Group in Marawi and the other threat groups related to them, such as the ASG and the BIFF.
There is no need to worry about the current situation as our soldiers will be reminded to uphold and respect the ongoing peace process between the GPH and the peace-loving MILF and MNLF.
As to the Marawi incident, the Government is in control of the situation and is fully aware that the Maute and similar groups have the capability, though limited, to disturb the peace; these have shown no hesitation in causing havoc, taking innocent lives, and destroying property as manifested yesterday in Marawi City.
At 2pm yesterday, our soldiers launched an operation against the members of the local Terrorist Group-Maute, also believing that the ASG leader Isnilon Hapilon was with them.
We tried to contain the fighting in specific areas, but the Militants attempted to conduct diversionary tactics in other areas of the City in order to ease off the pressure in the target area where IH is believed to be hiding.
Containing these terrorists could have been easier if the area is not a built-up community, however, as our troops have to inch closer to the enemy, they also need to make sure that the civilians are safe.
Our Soldiers and policemen are complementing each other’s efforts in order to contain and address the attacks conducted by the militants in some areas of Marawi.
And yes, we have already incurred casualties from among our forces due to the skirmishes yesterday.
We have also received reports of the death of some Maute members, and the death of some civilian casualties which we are still validating right now.
Along this line, we are calling on all citizens of Marawi to refrain from going out from their homes and to be vigilant at all times. We also ask them to inform authorities of any suspicious looking individuals in their area or inform authorities of any incidents that they believe should need action from the government forces.
Additionally, we would also like to appeal to those who are in Marawi City and in other areas to refrain from posting the locations of the government troops in social media as it will only endanger the lives of our soldiers and policemen. More so, it will only hamper our ongoing operations on the ground.
While it is true that we have enough forces, we still need the full support of the people in Marawi in this fight against terrorism.
Once again, your WestMinCom will continue to do our mandate and is doing our best to finish the problem the soonest.