MANILA, July 24 — Law abiding and peaceful citizens have nothing to fear from the extended martial law in Mindanao, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) reiterated late Sunday.
“Well, we have already said (that) law abiding citizens, have nothing to fear, those fearful of martial law are the terrorists, extremist groups, law violators, and supporters and sympathizers of these groups,” AFP public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo said in Filipino.
He also clarified that Martial Law was implemented not to suppress civil rights but to protect the citizenry from attacks of lawless groups like the Maute terrorists.
“We have, time and again, addressed the apprehensions as regards human rights violations of some quarters opposed to martial law. Our troops have clear orders to enforce martial law in accord with existing laws especially those that pertain to prescriptions and proscriptions relating to human rights,” Arevalo pointed out.
The AFP official also added that anyone who feels that his or her rights are violated can come forward to lodge his or her complaints.
“Because the AFP leadership is serious about ensuring that our personnel uphold the laws and that those who will be found guilty of violating them will be meted commensurate penalties,” Arevalo emphasized.
The 17th Congress, in a 261-18 vote, affirmed the need to extend Presidential Proclamation Number 216 extending martial law and the suspension of the Writ of Habeas Corpus until Dec. 31 as initiated by President Rodrigo Duterte.
It was declared in effect in Mindanao after Maute Group terrorists conducted a series of attacks in Marawi City following the botched attempt to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader and ISIS “emir” in Southeast Asia, Isnilon Hapilon, last May 23. (Priam F. Nepomuceno/PNA)