Erroneous claims on what happened on the ground in Marawi City were found in the martial law report submitted by the Duterte administration to Congress.

Fact check: Inconsistencies in Duterte's martial law report
Janvic Mateo ( - May 31, 2017 - 2:50am
MANILA, Philippines — The Duterte administration appeared to have submitted to Congress a martial law report that contained erroneous information on some of the incidents that happened in Marawi City that led to the declaration of martial law in Mindanao last week.
Several inconsistencies were discovered when we verified the contents of the report submitted by the government to Senate President Aquilino Pimentel and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez shortly before 10 p.m. on May 25.
This despite the earlier instruction of President Rodrigo Duterte to the Cabinet to be factual and truthful in drafting the report submitted to Congress.
In its report, the Palace claimed that several establishments, including the Amai Pakpak Medical Center, were taken over by elements of the Maute terrorist group and held several employees as hostages on May 23.
However, in a STAR report released on Monday, APMC chief Amer Saber said that the hospital was not overrun by terrorists contrary to the reports that came out on social media that day.
His statement corresponded with that of Philippine National Police spokesman Senior Superintendent Dionardo Carlos who said that the terrorists did not take over the hospital and went there to seek medical assistance for a member.
“Ito po coming from our counterparts in the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines). ‘Yun pong pagpunta ng grupo sa ospital, they did not control the entire hospital. They were there to seek medical assistance dahil may tama ‘yung kanilang kasama,” Carlos said in the press briefing on May 24.
“‘Yung mga workers there… they were only asked to provide medical assistance to the wounded members of the terror group,” he added.
With white flags to indicate they are non-combatants, displaced residents continue to flee to safer areas as government troops battle with Muslim militants Monday, May 29, 2017 in Marawi, southern Philippines. Philippine forces say they now control most of the southern city where militants linked to the Islamic State group launched a bloody siege nearly a week ago. Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said Monday that only small areas of Marawi are under militants' control. AP Photo/Bullit Marquez
Saber’s narrative was similar to that of Carlos, who said that the gunfight happened when Senior Inspector Freddie Solar arrived at the hospital with his wife, who was suffering from appendicitis.
It was then that the policemen were held at gunpoint, with Solar sustaining a fatal gunshot wound during a firefight.
As early as May 23, AFP Public Affairs Office chief Marine Colonel Edgard Arevalo has already denied reports that the APMC was taken over by Maute.
“The news being circulated by these terrorists and their sympathizers are spurious and are meant to spread lies and disinformation. It is propaganda to attract foreign terrorists’ support and recognition,” he added.
Department of Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial also denied that employees of the APMC were taken hostage, contrary to the martial law report that claimed that the terrorists held hostage the hospital’s employees.

School burning

In the martial law report, Malacañang also claimed that three schools were burned on the night of May 23 by the terrorists. They were identified as Dansalan College Foundation, Benigno Aquino College Foundation and the Marawi Central Elementary Pilot School.
But of the three, only the Dansalan College was confirmed to have been burned as confirmed by the photos released by the United Church of Christ in the Philippines that operates the school.
A source on the ground said he saw Senator Benigno Aquino College Foundation intact when he left the city on May 24. Another source said the school may have been reported as among those that were burned as it is located near Dansalan.
In an interview on Monday, Marawi City School Divisions Assistant Superintendent Ana Alonto also denied that Marawi Central Elementary Pilot School was burned by the terrorists.
Alonto, who is in Marawi City, said three schools were reportedly damaged during the infighting: the Mambuay Elementary School, Raya Madaya 1 Elementary School and Raya Madaya 2 Elementary School.
She clarified, however, that these were not burned by Maute but were damaged by bombs during the infighting.
Citing information from the ground, Department of Education Assistant Secretary Tonisito Umali said they have not received any report of damage caused by fire at the Central Elementary Pilot School.
Smoke rises following airstrikes by Philippine Air Force to retake control of Marawi city, southern Philippines Saturday, May 27, 2017. Philippine military jets fired rockets at militant positions Saturday as soldiers fought to wrest control of a southern city from gunmen linked to the Islamic State group, witnesses said. Civilians waved flags from their windows to show they are not combatants. AP Photo/Bullit Marquez


Citing unidentified sources, the martial law report also claimed that five faculty members of Dansalan College were killed when the terrorists occupied the school on May 23.
However, UCCP executive director Rannie Mercado told us they have yet to confirm reports on the death of the school personnel.
“Reports remain sketchy at this time. Let us not fuel the fire and fear by sharing unverified information, in social media or through word of mouth. We should be careful and act responsibly to not sow panic, confusion or anger. A thorough analysis of the forces at play is required to understand the deep-seated roots of the conflict,” the UCCP said in a statement.
Mercado confirmed that seven personnel of the school were reportedly taken hostage, while dozens of others are still in Marawi City.
As of Monday, the AFP said at least 19 civilians were confirmed killed in the clashes.
Of the 19, 16 were discovered over the weekend or after the government submitted its martial law report to Congress.

Land Bank ransacking

The martial law report also claimed that the lawless armed groups ransacked the branch of Land Bank of the Philippines in Marawi City and commandeered one of its armored vehicles.
But in a statement sent to us, the bank clarified that the Marawi City branch was not ransacked but sustained some damage from the attacks.
“This is also to clarify that the photo circulating on Facebook of a burnt down Land Bank office is not the present Land Bank Marawi Branch, but an image of the closed Land Bank MSU (Mindanao State University) extension office (EO) that was slightly affected in 2014 by a fire that struck the adjacent building,” the statement read.
“In 2012, Land Bank transferred the operations of the said EO to Malita in Davao Occidental,” it added.
The bank confirmed that the armored vehicle owned by a third party provider was seized by the lawless groups. It added that the vehicle was empty when it happened.
Land Bank assured its clients of continued service temporarily provided by its branches in Iligan and Cagayan de Oro.

Other inconsistencies

Upon his arrival from Russia on May 24, Duterte claimed that the police chief of Malabang town in Lanao del Sur was beheaded by the terrorists.
A few days later, however, Malabang town police chief Senior Inspector Romeo Enriquez surfaced and said that he is still alive.
In a press briefing on May 23 in Moscow, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana claimed that the Marawi City Hall was among those occupied by the Maute group.
“(They) started also to occupy some establishment in Marawi City. They occupied the Amai Pakpak Hospital, this is a hospital under the DOH, the city hall, city jail and part of the MSU (Mindanao State University) compound,” he said.
Earlier that day, however, the AFP already denied that the city hall was occupied.
MSU Vice President for Academic Affairs Alma Berowa also told us on Monday that the university is safe from the ongoing conflict, citing information from the military.
A police officer holds a poster of wanted Filipino Muslim militants known as "Maute " group at a checkpoint set up at the entrance to Iligan city Saturday, May 27, 2017 in southern Philippines. Iligan city is one of the safe havens for the tens of thousands of Marawi residents who have fled their city following the rampage by Muslim militants. AP Photo/Bullit Marquez
The military likewise cautioned the public from identifying Maute as a member of the Islamic State even though both Lorenzana and Duterte identified the group as such in at least one instance.
The claims that the city hall was occupied, a town police chief was beheaded, and that parts of the MSU were taken over by Maute group were not mentioned in the martial law report submitted to Congress.
The Congress has yet to hold a joint session to discuss the declaration of martial law in Mindanao despite calls from different sectors for them to follow the provisions of the Constitution.

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