Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana denied the existence of a third arrest order against suspected supporters of the Maute group, saying any announcement relating to martial law will be released and disseminated officially by security officials.
Lorenzana branded as “fake” the unverified and unofficial arrest order copy bearing the names of different individuals who could be involved in the “rebellion” in Mindanao that prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law in the region.
“We have received reports that an Arrest Order No. 3 is currently being circulated. In my capacity as martial law administrator, I have not issued any Arrest Order No. 3, thus, any copy of the document being circulated is fake,” he said in a recent statement.
After Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao following a series of attacks by the Islamic State-inspired Maute group in Marawi City, Lorenzana released two arrest orders containing 200 names linked to the unrest. These included alleged members and sympathizers of the Maute group, which has been fighting government troops for more than a month.
With the issuance of the arrest orders, a suspected bomber of the Maute group was arrested in Cagayan de Oro in June during pursuit operations by the Philippine Army and the Philippine National Police (PNP).
With the “third arrest order”, Lorenzana appealed to the public to avoid sharing the document to avoid confusion.
“I call on everyone not to share this fake news to avoid confusion, and not to jeopardize our current operations. Any announcement relating to martial law will be disseminated officially,” he said.
Sought for further clarification, Lorenzana told reporters in a text message that the arrest order was shown to him by Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. of the Western Mindanao Command.
“[Lt.] Gen. Galvez showed me a copy of it in his cellphone in the DND (Department of National Defense) letterhead with my name at the bottom but unsigned. Therefore it is making the rounds already,” he said.
“I also got texts from Muslim friends telling me that some people they know are in the list who are clean. That’s why I made that press release,” Lorenzana added, referring to his denial of the arrest order.
Duterte’s martial law proclamation is good for 60 days. It was issued on May 23, when the Maute group began its attacks on Marawi City after the military failed to arrest Isnilon Hapilon, Abu Sayyaf leader and designated “emir” of the caliphate the Muslim rebels were trying to establish in Mindanao.
While denying the third arrest order, Lorenzana admitted that the possibility of extending martial law in Mindanao was being reviewed.
Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr., military spokesman, said ground commanders in Mindanao were still assessing the situation.
The recommendation from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the PNP will be submitted to the President by the end of this coming week. DEMPSEY REYES