Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana denied on Saturday the existence of a third arrest order under the martial law proclamation in Mindanao, calling such document “fake.”
“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 statement.
After President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in the whole island of Mindanao following the attacks of the Islamic State-linked Maute group in Marawi City, Lorenzana released two arrest orders containing 200 names, supposedly involved in rebellion in Mindanao.
The two orders bore the names of members and sympathizers of the Maute group, whose attack on Marawi City last May 23 forced Duterte to declare military rule under Proclamation 216.
The earlier orders led to the arrest of a suspected Maute bomber in Cagayan de Oro City in June during pursuit operations of the Philippine Army and the Philippine National Police, as well as the parents of the Maute brothers that led the Marawi attack.
Lorenzana called on the public to avoid sharing the document titled “Arrest Order No. 3,” which he tagged as “fake news.”
“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 the fake arrest order was shown to him by Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., head 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 explained.
“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 statement denying the issuance of a new arrest order.
Martial law in Mindanao is on its 48th day today. The maximum 60-day period for martial law set by the Constitution will end on July 22.
Earlier, Lorenzana said the military was studying the possibility of extending martial law in the whole Mindanao.
Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr., the military spokesman, said ground commanders in Mindanao were still conducting an assessment to determine whether an extension of martial law would be necessary.
The recommendation, coming from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, will be submitted to the President by the end of this week, he said.