Military clarifies no lockdown in Marawi

ILIGAN CITY – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said on Saturday there is no lockdown in Marawi City after the martial law in Mindanao lapsed on the midnight of Dec. 31, 2019, more than two years it was declared during the siege.

Col. Jose Maria Cuerpo, commander of the Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade, whose jurisdictions include Marawi and Lanao del Sur, said the curfews hours, although adjusted, is still in effect following the request of the Lanao del Sur’s Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) in an emergency meeting on December 27 last year.

“It is part of ours and the PNPs (Philippine National Police) security measures in compliance with the Proclamation 55. But the curfew is adjusted from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. to midnight to 4 a.m.,” Cuerpo said.

On his social media account, Marawi resident Drieza Lininding, also chairman of a civic Moro Consensus Group, posted an open letter addressed to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana asking an explanation about the implementation of “lockdown” in Marawi City despite the lifting of martial law.

“We are writing to you because we thought after the lifting of martial law, we can regain our normal life back with less restrictions and fears but unfortunately we are told that the ‘lockdown’ from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. (is) being implemented in Marawi and Lanao Del Sur,” he wrote.

He said while Marawi residents have nothing against Presidential Proclamation 55 or the extensive coordination among government security forces to suppress lawlessness and violence, they do not understand “why a place like Marawi, of which more than half of its residents are displaced, need the lockdown”.

“Half of our city is a ghost area,” Lininding added.

Cuerpo, on the other hand, said when a lockdown is in effect, no one is allowed to get in and out of the place and it is implemented indefinitely while the curfew is observed in a specific period of time.

“During curfew hours, one can get in or out if in emergency cases or when there is prior coordination with the security forces,” Cuerpo said.

Zia Alonto Adiong, a member of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, said even if martial law in Mindanao has been lifted, curfews and checkpoints may still be implemented.

Adiong said the lifting of martial law in Mindanao is important because it would only mean that the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus or warrantless arrests of suspected rebels and terrorists would no longer be allowed.

Adiong is confident that with the lifting of martial law, Mindanao can rebuild its reputation and economy which have plunged.

“If you have a business, you would not invest in an area without a stable peace and order situation,” Adiong said.

President Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao in 2017 when government forces and the local group of Dawlah Islamiya clashed and the five-month war ensued.

Congress first extended the declaration to Dec. 31, 2018, when it was about to expire on December 31, 2017, and extended it again on December 31 last year.

Martial law allows authorities to arrest suspected rebels or criminals without a warrant and charge them within three days based on the 1989 Philippine Constitution.

While the President “may only declare martial law in cases of rebellion, invasion or if public safety requires it, the Congres may extend or cut short such declaration. 

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Source: Philippine News Agency (PNA)

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