The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) assured Vice President Leni Robredo on Wednesday it would respect human rights while implementing martial law in Mindanao.
Robredo visited Camp Aguinaldo Wednesday morning for a briefing, which was conducted by Maj. Gen. Noel Clement, AFP deputy chief of staff for operations.
Also present at the briefing, which was held at the AFP General Headquarters building, were Defense Undersecretary Eduardo del Rosario and Lt. Gen. Salvador Melchor Mison Jr., AFP vice chief of staff. along with other top military officials.
“The leadership of the AFP assured us that if they implement martial law, they promise to look after the basic rights of our countrymen,” Robredo said, adding that she had been getting updates from the AFP about Marawi since Monday.
“We thank our soldiers and policemen who continue to take care of our security,” she said. “This is the time for us to be united. This is the time for us to work together for the security of our nation. Let us trust our AFP.”
When asked if she agreed with the declaration of martial law or if it was an over-reaction, Robredo said: “It’s hard to say.”
“For me, let us wait for the official declaration of the President,” she went on. “Anyway, under the Constitution, within 48 hours, the President will send information to Congress as to why (martial law) is needed.”
“I asked the leadership of the AFP and it seems even they are also waiting…waiting for the arrival of the President so that there would be an official declaration and of course for the general orders to come out,” she said.
Asked if martial law might be abused because it was Mindanao-wide, Robredo said: “It’s hard to say that now in the sense that the (military) operation is focused on Marawi, it is possible that (a similar situation) could also flare up in other parts of Mindanao.”
Robredo said the AFP assured her that the situation in Marawi was under control and urged residents there to remain indoors and cooperate with the authorities.
“They are asking the public not just to remain calm but also to help and cooperate. This is not an easy fight. Our enemy here is terrorism,” she said.
“Information from our countrymen is very important for police operations to succeed,” she added. “The leadership of the AFP assured us that they control the situation, but for its quick resolution, they are asking for the cooperation of everyone.”
Robredo said she was in contact with Marawi officials to prepare for any mass evacuation from the city.
“The AFP officials are urging residents not to go out of their homes,” she said. “They don’t encourage evacuating to a common area because if they congregate, that would be more vulnerable.”
She urged those who have information about the terrorists to share it with the authorities.
“If we look back at what happened in Bohol, there was a quick solution because our countrymen there helped,” she said. “Our soldiers are hoping that it would also be the same in Marawi.” /atm
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