THE Philippine military will prosecute soldiers who will be found guilty of committing rape against the displaced women of the Marawi siege, a spokesman said on Friday.
Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla called on victims of erring soldiers to come forward after Amnesty International (AI) reported that the military committed abuse against eight civilians who were trapped in Marawi.
The AI report cited the account of one of the eight civilians, a construction worker, who told the AI that he and his companions were crossing bridge to flee from the militants when Philippine Marines confronted and detained them, beat them up, and tied their hands and feet with electrical wire.
The AI also cited an account from another civilian who claimed that the military beat him to a pulp, hit his hands and back with the butt of a rifle, and poured burning liquid poured all over his body. He was eventually brought to the Red Cross.
“As to these allegations of abuse [on the part of the military, we are waiting for a formal complaint that could have basis. On our ranks, we are yet to receive a complaint or a report [of such abuses [to our leaders]. Be that is it may, they will remain to be allegations unless there are concrete and formal reports that come our way and we will act on it,” Padilla said in a news conference.
Padilla said that even allegations of sexual abuse have been floating since the second month of government operations against the Maute group in June, and that the military’s call for the victims to bring the matter to its attention has fallen on deaf ears.
“In the initial months of the battle, there was a group that came out: alluding to…making sexual [abuse]insinuations. We asked them, Where’s the complaint? Who are the victims that you are talking about? But they did not give us names. [But rest assured we were and we are ready to take actions [against abusive soldiers],” Padilla said.
“We are ready to take action as soon as a formal complaint is lodged,” Padilla said.
President Rodrigo Duterte declared on May 23 martial law in Mindanao, which Congress extended until the end of 2017.
The Marawi conflict ended after 154 days of intense fighting between government forces and the Maute group, leaving over a hundred soldiers, at least 47 civilians and about 800 terrorists dead, as well as 500,000 people displaced.