‘Martial law worsened situation in Marawi’

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MARTIAL law has only worsened the situation in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, said Rep. Edcel Lagman of Albay, one of the petitioners against President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of military rule and suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus allowing warrantless arrests.

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Lagman made the statement a day after Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr. said the armed conflict in Marawi was a “very complicated engagement” that could take longer than expected.

Lagman cited the June 9 report by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Lanao del Sur chapter that condemned military operations in Marawi. The IBP chapter said searches and seizures by the military have resulted in loss of valuable personal belongings of civilians while residential and commercial establishments have been laid open to looters all over the besieged city.

IBP Lanao del Sur said it was “utterly shocked, to use a milder term, by the sheer magnitude of wanton disregard of sanctity of domicile, the right against deprivation of property without due process of the law, the right to be sure in one’s person, house, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures and the privacy of communication and correspondence of innocent civilians committed by the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police.”

Based on the records of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, at least 20,049 families or 100,530 persons have been affected by the armed conflict in Marawi.

There are 25 evacuation centers with 3,026 families or 14,229 persons, and 17,023 families or 86,301 persons are staying with relatives or friends.

Lagman said: “All of this horror and misery could have been avoided if the President did not unwarrantedly declare martial law and suspend the writ, which gave the armed forces and police authorities the unnecessary impetus to implement military rule with disastrous consequences. The extent and gravity of the deaths, damage to properties and displacement of civilians were the results of the excessive military offensive through airstrikes and land assaults,” Lagman said in his statement.

Lagman again rejected the military’s claim that the establishment of an Islamic State province in Marawi was the Maute group’s main objective, noting that the Marawi clashes were triggered by the military’s failed operation to capture Abu Sayyaf terrorist group leader Isnilon Hapilon, who remains at large.

“The declaration of martial law has made the government a purveyor of terrorist propaganda—a propaganda that is baseless since no less than the [IS] has not reliably acknowledged nor confirmed this projected purpose,” Lagman said.

Lagman said the Philippines was not among the 10 countries targeted by the IS: Kenya, Somalia, Nigeria, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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