Lorenzana tells Mindanao martial law ‘victims’ to come forward
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Monday urged alleged victims of human rights abuses under martial law in Mindanao to come forward and present their evidence.
“I strongly encourage these groups and alleged victims of excesses by government security forces to come forward, present your evidence, and file charges in the proper courts,” he said in a press statement.
“Huwag po kayong matakot (Don’t be afraid). If indeed some of our soldiers are found guilty of committing excesses under martial law, then we will not hesitate to administer the appropriate sanctions against these individuals,” he said.
Human rights groups and peace advocates from Mindanao alleged that there were “massive” rights violations that were unreported due to victims’ fear of retaliation.
Lorenzana said that they have deployed military human rights officers and lawyers on the ground to help the soldiers in performing their expanded duties and responsibilities under martial law.
“We will never allow anyone within the defense and security establishments to tarnish the good image and reputation we have painstakingly built over the years,” he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte placed the entire Mindanao under martial law on May 23 after hundreds of gunmen from the Islamic State (IS)-inspired Maute and Abu Sayyaf terrorist groups seized parts of Marawi City.
The declaration, which has been upheld by the Supreme Court, is effective for 60 days. The President is expected to come out with a decision soon on whether to extend martial law or not. JE
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