Palace welcomes CHR probe of military operations in Marawi

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MALACANANG welcomed the Commission on Human Rights’ (CHR) move to investigate the alleged human rights violation during military operations in Marawi City.

In a press conference, Palace spokesman Ernesto Abella said the government would not allow any member of the police and military to perpetrate violations of human rights and the Constitution.

“We welcome the Commission on Human Rights’ review and investigation of the action of state security forces in Marawi, in connection with human rights. This ensures adherence to the rule of law, which is vital in upholding democracy,” Abella told reporters.

“The Armed Forces of the Philippines, we have to underline, give primacy to the principles of human rights and international humanitarian law, and it continues to work with the CHR to ensure that no violation is committed by its units on the ground, in connection with military operations, whether or not there is martial law,” he added.

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On Wednesday, CHR Policy Advisory Office head Gemma Parojinog said the CHR has tasked its personnel to monitor the situation from the time martial law was declared in Mindanao.

“Para ma-ensure na yung karapatan nung mga nasa kabila ay meron ding respeto (This is to ensure that the rights of the other parties are also respected),” Parojinog said in an interview with UNTV.

She said the commission was concerned with the aspect of human rights whether they were soldiers or terrorists.

“Ngayon na wala nang threat (Now that there is no more threat), because the Constitution says imminent threat. In fact, the President declared that it is liberated already,” she added.

President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao following the siege of Marawi City by the Islamic State-affiliated Maute terror group last May 23.

On Tuesday, the President announced the liberation of Marawi, even as military operations continued to flush out fighters.

Meanwhile, Abella said the military was checking reports that Malaysian terrorist Dr. Mahmud Ahmad may have been among 20 extremists killed after security forces attacked terrorist hideouts in Marawi City overnight.

“The military is validating reports that Mahmud bin Ahmad, a Malaysian national, who helped finance the rebellion in Marawi died during last night’s operations,” Abella said.

“Once the government troops recover the body, only then can we make an official confirmation,” he added.

Experts and military said Mahmud may emerge as a new terror leader, following the deaths on Monday of Abu Sayyaf-Basilan leader Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute, one of the two founders of the Maute group.

As of 6 a.m. on Thursday, 850 terrorists, 163 government troops and 47 civilians have been killed in Marawi, according to the latest government report. CATHERINE S. VALENTE

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