THE Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) of the Armed of the Forces of the Philippines has asked Moro rebels not to worry about President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of martial law in Mindanao.
The Westmincom reminded the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) members that the declaration was made to suppress the rebellion brought about by the Maute Group in Marawi City and other threat groups related to them, such as the Abu Sayyaf and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.
"There is no need to worry about the current situation as our soldiers will be reminded to uphold and respect the ongoing peace process between the GPH [government] and the peace-loving MILF and MNLF," said the Westmincom in a statement.
It also called on the people in Marawi City to refrain from going out of their homes and be vigilant at all times.
"We also ask them to inform authorities of any suspicious looking individuals in their area or inform authorities of any incidents that they believe should need action from the government forces," it said.
It said its units are yet to get a written guidance as to how the declaration will translate to their operations on the ground.
"We are, however, assuring the public that we will use the current mandate to boost our campaign against terrorism. And we will enforce our mandate in accordance with the law and with respect to human rights and the International Humanitarian Law," it said.
Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao late Tuesday, May 23, following the clashes between government forces and Maute Group members in Marawi City. The skirmishes has so far killed at least three people and wounded 12 others.
The President, who is on his way back from Russia, said Wednesday that the martial law he declared will not be different from the one-man rule during the time of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, stressing he will be "harsh" in dealing with the terrorists.
"Martial law is martial law. So to my countrymen, you have experienced martial law. Ito, it would not be any different from what the President Marcos did. I’d be harsh," he said.
READ: Duterte on Mindanao martial law: I'll be harsh
He also told the Filipinos, especially the people in Mindanao, not to be scared. (LMY/SunStar Philippines)