From the Philippine News Agency (May 24): Martial law in Mindanao to be enforced in accordance with laws, human rights
The implementation of martial law in Mindanao will be done in accordance with existing laws and respect for human rights.
This was bared by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo during a briefing Wednesday when sought for a comment on President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of martial law in wake of the ongoing fighting between government troops and Maute Group members.
"Declaration of martial law does not mean abuse of authority. We will do it in accordance with the existing law and respect for human rights," he said in Filipino.
Arevalo also clarified that Maute Group members, other terrorist elements, and their supporters and sympathizers are the target of the martial law and not law abiding citizens.
He added the declaration is part of government efforts to ensure that the terrorist groups will not succeed in their attempt to create havoc and terror.
However, Arevalo said that they are still waiting for specifics on what is allowed and not on the latest martial law announcement.
The clash between Maute Group members started 2 p.m. Tuesday at Barangay Basak, Malutlut when government security forces learned of the presence of Abu Sayyaf Isnilon Hapilon, who allied with the Maute Group, and his cohorts.
Hapilon was reported severely wounded in the series of military operations in Lanao Del Sur early this January.
The former is reportedly the representative of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria terror group in the Philippines.
This prompted military and police units to conduct a law enforcement operation but they were fired on first by the bandits,
"The security forces were fired upon constraining them to retaliate," Arevalo stressed.
Initial reports said that at least one soldier was killed and eight others wounded in this exchange.
"Follow up operations are still ongoing and we cannot reveal other details so as not to compromise operational security. Follow on forces are underway as we speak to further ensure that we will keep the grip of the situation," the AFP official added.
Arevalo also urged the public to refrain from posting in social media information that would tend exacerbate the situation especially photos and videos on the movements of our troops and on terrorist propaganda circulating through social media.
"We will continue to provide updates as often as possible with due regard to the security of our operating forces and the conduct of the operations itself," he added.