Makabayan party-list chairman Neri Colmenares and his supporters condemn human rights abuses committed during the Marcos regime during a press conference in Quezon City on Tuesday.
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Martial law in Mindanao may be extended – Palace
Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - October 19, 2018 - 12:00am

Intel failure in Marawi: Duterte takes full responsibility

MANILA, Philippines — The government might consider extending martial law in Mindanao again as it has helped security forces maintain peace and order as well as protect civilians from further terror attacks, Malacañang said yesterday.

The government is set to lift martial law in Mindanao on Dec. 31, the second and supposedly last extension allowed by Congress for the proclamation, which was issued by President Duterte on May 23, 2017 at the outset of the five-month siege of Marawi City by Islamic State (IS)-linked militants from the Maute, Abu Sayyaf and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

“According to the military, the martial law has helped in the peace and order situation and it has dissuaded the terrorists from inflicting the usual violence against the population,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said.

Asked if the government would stick to the scheduled lifting of martial law by the end of the year, Panelo merely said even local residents appeared to have accepted its benefits.

“As I said, if it is helping the population – the population is not even opposing it, so to my mind, there is a need to extend it,” Panelo said.

But he said the President, as commander-in-chief, would seek insights from Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police (PNP) before seeking another extension of martial law in Mindanao.

“But according to the President that will depend on the advice, the recommendation of the military because they are the ones on the ground,” he said.

“Again, as I said, that will depend on the recommendation of the military. The President always heeds the advice or recommendation of the military and other police forces there, because they are the ones knowledgeable on the conditions existing there,” Panelo added.

He explained that martial rule is instrumental in neutralizing IS-inspired terrorists who wanted to establish a caliphate in Southern Mindanao.

“What I’m saying, there is a need to extend if that particular martial law would be helpful in maintaining peace and order. Because if it does not, then why do you have to maintain it?” he said.

So far, Panelo admitted that there are no proposals yet in the Cabinet or from the security cluster to extend martial law.

“No, there is no suggestion. The President always waits for the recommendation of the military,” he said.

Failure of intelligence

In remarks before businessmen at the Manila Hotel last night, President Duterte said he has assumed full legal responsibility over what he himself described as a failure of intelligence that led to the siege of Marawi last year, as he vowed that rehabilitation efforts would go full swing in the coming months.

He said the military and the police provided him with reliable information about a brewing attack in Marawi by Muslim militants.

“So, it was a failure of intelligence and because I’m the guy who sits there, I would just have to assume full legal responsibility for it, that’s why the (fighting was) prolonged,” Duterte said.

Top military officials including Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Carlito Galvez visited Marawi on Wednesday to lead the rites commemorating the first anniversary of the city’s liberation. The President did not attend the commemoration rites.

Prior to the siege, Duterte said he was in talks with Beijing for the purchase of weapons to preempt an attack by the militants.

“I went to China to talk about the acquisition of firearms because I knew that Marawi was about to explode. I was given good results by the intelligence community,” he said.

“We were able to estimate the number of guns. But we never – we failed to appreciate that they have piled up tons of ordnance, explosives and everything,” Duterte added.

“So we spent a lot of money there, instead of putting it in infrastructure. I really do not know – I’m not an economist,” he said.

Duterte said he has left to Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez and National Economic and Development Authority secretary general Ernesto Pernia the task of spearheading rehabilitation efforts.

“I leave it to Diokno, Sonny and Pernia. Sila ‘yung nag-aral sa economics. Ako diyan, I remember I only got 78 in college. And I don’t remember how – if I passed that g****** subject in high school,” he said.

A private consortium is undertaking the rehabilitation of Marawi, but residents lament the slow progress of the project.

“I do not interfere. As a matter of fact, you all know, no commercial transactions of government would ever – either private or public or quasi – reach my desk,” Duterte said.

“Walang kontrata sa gobyerno ni isa. MRT, LRT, reclamation, lahat ‘yan, it starts and ends with a Cabinet member,” the President said.

Earlier yesterday, Panelo emphasized before reporters that the government has not abandoned Marawi rehabilitation efforts. He said the President has ordered the “full implementation of the rehabilitation.”

He also quashed insinuations that the administration was handling the Marawi rehabilitation efforts the same way the Aquino administration did in rebuilding Tacloban in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yolanda.

“He has ordered the full movement that will immediately rehabilitate the place and as I said earlier, the groundbreaking will start at the end of the month. So hopefully, dire-diretso na tayo (we go full steam ahead),” Panelo said.

Panelo also expressed appreciation for the US government’s providing P1.35 billion for livelihood projects in Marawi.

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