General Eduardo Año says a key aspect of martial law is allowing the military to use private utilities, but that the Armed Forces will exercise discretion in doing so
LANAO DEL NORTE, Philippines (May 28, 2017) — Warrantless arrests have been made in checkpoints in Mindanao, confirmed martial law implementor General Eduardo Año.
“Sa isang lugar, may mga na-checkpoint dito na walang identification (There is one area here where personalities were not able to show identification cards at the checkpoint). So they are being verified. Once they are verified, they are being released,” Año said without going into details.
“We are checking the identity of these persons. Once somebody can attest this is actually the same person without any link to the terrorist group [we release him],” he added.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief was interviewed on Friday, May 26, on the sidelines of President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to a military camp near Marawi City, where clashes between government troops and local terrorist groups have been going on for 4 days.
The clashes in Marawi City prompted the President to declare martial law in Mindanao.
“We have established checkpoints not only here in Marawi but in key cities where we think there are people linked to terroristic activities,” Año said.
Rappler observed how the checkpoints were noticeably stricter after the visit of Duterte and the country’s top military officers on Friday.
Security officers manning the checkpoint for passengers and motorists going to Iligan City proper were seen with printouts of photos of the military’s “Wanted Terror List.”
Military use of private facilities?
Año said the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is the most important aspect of the martial law declaration.
“The process is easier now to arrest people we suspect to be linked to rebellion,” he said.
The other is the power that it gives the military to use private utilities.
“If there is a need to use some utilities, either public or private, we can do that because it is inherent in this martial law. But we will exercise discretion,” Año said.
AFP chief’s commitment
Amid concerns, Año gave assurances that his brand of martial law will be different from the country’s experience in the 1970s.
“But we will use the special powers of martial law to defeat this Maute Group and other armed groups who connived to try to dismember this part of the territory from the Philippines,” he said.
Before the Marawi clashes, the AFP was working to finish local terror groups by June 2017.