THE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Wednesday vowed to maintain professionalism and zero abuses following President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of a 60-day martial law over the entire Mindanao region.
"Ang inyo pong AFP is committed into enforcing whatever will be in addition to our operations on the ground pursuant to the declaration of the martial law. We will do this without abuse, we will do this in consonance with existing laws," he said.
Human rights group Karapatan on Wednesday expressed opposition on Duterte's declaration of martial law in Mindanao as they raised concern that this could result to massive human rights abuses.
It said martial law declaration "will aggravate the insecurity in the area. Martial law is not the answer; it will never result to anything but gross violations of people's rights."
Duterte late Tuesday evening placed Mindanao under a 60-day martial law following the atrocities of the Maute group, a group affiliated with Islamic State militants, in Marawi City.
With the declaration of martial law in Mindanao, Duterte said he would be harsh and it would not be different from the martial law enforced by late President Ferdinand Marcos during his term.
On Tuesday afternoon, a firefight between the government troops and alleged members of the Maute terror group started following joint police and military operation against the group's top leader Isnilon Hapilon.
After the firefight, the Maute occupied government buildings, including a hospital. It also allegedly burned a city jail and school buildings.
The group reportedly took hostage several people, including a catholic priest, and threatened to kill them if the government will not stop its operations against them.
Arevalo said the declaration of the martial law will be a big help in addressing the situation on the ground.
"Malaki ang maitutulong ng martial law sapagkat meron po itong aspeto na pagbabanta sa mga supporters, sa mga sympathizers ng local terrorist group na ito na hindi nila dapat ikanlong, tulungan at asistihan ang local terrorist group na ito. Kailangan nilang makipagtulungan sa pamahalaan," he said.
He said the public should not be afraid of the martial law as it targets mainly the group's supporters and sympathizers and not the innocent ones.
Arevalo, however, urged the public to help them in hunting and finishing the Maute group in the region in order to end their atrocities there.
He said they are optimistic that the security forces will be able to successfully address the atrocity in the region even before the end of the 60-day period.
Arevalo noted that the government troops deployed in the area were from special units who were highly-trained for such situation.
"What we can tell you is that 'yung situation sa Marawi is under control," Arevalo said.
"Ang challenge ay paano muling mababawi 'yung ilang installations na sinasabing andoon sila at sinasabing may snipers na naka-deploy. That's why kailangan tayong lubhang maging maingat sa ating pagpasok sa lugar," he added. (SunStar Philippines)