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Rody urged to keep martial law timetable

Despite declaring the liberation of Marawi City following the death of terror leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Omarkhayyam Maute early this week, President Rodrigo Duterte said on Thursday Mindanao would remain under martial law until the last terrorist is taken out. PPD/Albert Alcain, File

MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo expressed hope yesterday that President Duterte would keep his word on the lifting of martial law in Mindanao once hostilities in Marawi cease.

“The declaration of martial law in Mindanao was premised on the peace and order situation. If we remember, the Department of National Defense and the military said that as soon as the area is cleared and there’s no more danger there, they will lift it,” Robredo said.

Despite declaring the liberation of Marawi City following the death of terror leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Omarkhayyam Maute early this week, President Duterte said on Thursday Mindanao would remain under martial law until the last terrorist is taken out.

In May, the President placed the whole of Mindanao under martial law and suspended the writ of habeas corpus “on account of lawless violence” in the region, particularly the siege of Marawi by the Maute group.

The declaration, initially for 60 days, has been extended up to the end of the year by Malacañang, with Congress’ approval.

“We’re not in the position to say that it’s done, but I hope they make good of their word so that the people’s trust in the military, government will be maintained,” Robredo said.

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The Vice President also reiterated her call for unity among Filipinos to hasten the rebuilding of Marawi City.

“I think this cannot be done by the government alone. We need to work together,” she said.

“This is not the time to blame each other or whatsoever, but this is the time to show heroism, the time to show unity,” she said.

Public safety

At Malacañang, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said Duterte has public safety in mind in deciding to keep martial law in force in Mindanao.

“The death of the ringleaders of the Marawi rebellion which include Omar Maute, Isnilon Hapilon and Dr. Mahmud Amad does not automatically result in the lifting of martial law,” Abella said yesterday.

He added threats remain as terror networks have yet to be dismantled.

“There are remnants, including networks supporting the Maute cause within Mindanao. The President is duty bound not to compromise public safety,” Abella said.

And before deciding on martial law, Duterte will have to confer first with  members of his Cabinet security, justice and peace cluster, particularly with Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana who is the designated martial law administrator, Abella pointed out.

The President, Abella also said, will also consult with Armed Forces chief Gen. Eduardo Año “on the necessary action to be taken.”

In a Palace briefing, AFP spokesman Gen. Restituto Padilla said troops have started to shift operation to other areas for training and other activities.

Padilla assured the public that there will be enough soldiers to boost the security needs of every region in the country while the rehabilitation, reconstruction and rebuilding of Marawi commence.

The battle area in Marawi, Padilla said, covers only a 500-meter radius.

“With the number of hostages that has been rescued in the last 24 hours, we look forward to getting the rest of the hostages that still remain and addressing the armed threat that still exists,” Padilla said.                                                                                                

“And we are praying that this will be today or the following day. So, let’s give it – we are giving it our best and we are doing all we can so that we can end these hostilities in this part of Marawi,” Padilla added.

Office of Civil Defense Assistant Secretary Kristopher James Purisima cited the need for a careful post-conflict assessment of the damage, especially the 24 barangays in Marawi.

Meanwhile, presidential legal adviser Salvador Panelo also defended Duterte over his statement that he can declare a revolutionary government in the country to stave off ouster attempts.

In a television interview, Panelo said declaring a revolutionary government is allowed under the Constitution, and that it is part of his mandate as an elected leader.

“The electorate factored that in and when he was voted overwhelmingly, the electorate gave him the overwhelming mandate to declare a revolutionary government if there is a need for that,” Panelo said.

“There is a constitutional mandate for that,” he added, citing a provision in the 1987 Constitution, which says that “the prime duty of the government is to serve and protect the people.”

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