Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Thursday denied claims made by a voice recording being spread on social media that the government would impose martial law by January 10 to stop the surge in coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases in the country.
“Not true. Fake news. Definitely, out of the picture,” he said in a message to reporters.
In the voice recording, a woman is urging the public to stock up on food good for until January 30 on the possibility that President Rodrigo Duterte will declare martial law or total lockdown by next week.
In the scenario, no one will be allowed to go out, hence the need to stock up on supplies, the woman claimed.
“There is no compelling reason to declare martial law,” Lorenzana said in a report in the government news agency PNA
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There are sufficient military and police units to secure Mindanao against further terrorist attacks, Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said.
Lorenzana made the remark as he justified his inclination not to recommend another extension of martial law in the island, which has been extended for the third time.
These forces are sufficient to deter these terror groups from pulling off another Marawi-type assault, he added.
Mindanao is home to several terrorist groups including among others the Abu Sayyaf, Maute Group, Jemaah Islamiyah and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters. The terrorist groups led by the Maute Group that laid siege on Marawi City in 2017 were said to have been backed by the Middle East-based Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
“(The situation is now) under control. We have sufficient military and police (units) in the area to ensure that the terrorists can no longer do a Marawi-type operation. Plus, the LGUs (local government units) are clamoring for its lifting such as (Davao City) Mayor Sara (Duterte),” Lorenzana said in a message to reporters late Monday.
The DND chief added that he is not keen on another extension of martial law unless it will be recommended by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).
“Yes, personally I am not inclined to recommend its extension. Unless the AFP and PNP recommend otherwise. I will await their recommendation which I should receive before December,” Lorenzana said.
The DND chief earlier announced that a stronger Human Security Act is a more viable approach than extending martial law in Mindanao.
The House of Representatives, voting 235-28-1 in a joint session on Dec. 12, 2018, approved the extension of martial law in Mindanao for the third time until Dec. 31, 2019. The AFP recommended another year-long extension of martial law in Mindanao in its bid to neutralize terror groups still operating in the southern Philippines.
Martial law in Mindanao was declared on May 23, 2017 following attacks launched by the Maute Group in Marawi City. Lawmakers, in a special joint session in July 2017, granted the extension of martial law until Dec. 31, 2017, at the President’s request.
In December 2017, the Senate and House of Representatives, convening in a joint session, granted President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s second request for the extension of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus for a period of one year from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2018. (PNA)
While saying that terrorist attacks during the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games) are unlikely to happen, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the deployment of military units is part of their precautionary measures to secure the regional multi-sports event.
“Yes, kasama yan sa mga precautionary (measures) namin (It’s part of our precautionary measures). Although we do not see the likelihood pero mabuti na ang nakahanda di ba? (It’s better that we are ready, right?) Kasama ‘yan sa ating ginagawa kaya nga mahigpit yung ating seguridad sa loob ng mga events (It’s part of our efforts that is why security measures in venues are tight),” Lorenzana told reporters Monday.
The defense chief made the remark in the wake of possible terror attacks by followers of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi who was neutralized by US forces in northwest Syria last month.
The DND chief said security preparations of both military and police for the SEA Games have been ongoing for quite some time.
“Matagal nang nakahanda yung NCRPO (National Capital Region Police Office) saka yung Joint Task Force National Capital Region ng Armed Forces (of the Philippines) (The NCRPO and the Joint Task Force NCR of the AFP are already prepared long before). Sila ay nagtulungan na magalaw din ang ating ang mga intelligence units ng Armed Forces at saka (They are in coordination so that we can mobilize the intelligence units of the Armed Forces and the) PNP (Philippine National Police),” he added.
On Monday, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) formally conducted send-off ceremonies for the soldier-athletes, coaches, and emergency responders who will be participating in the biennial games.
Some of the participating 400 personnel are from the AFP’s regular and reserve units.
“We have all been tirelessly working for this momentous event. We are able to lay down the joint operational guidelines for our troops who will be deployed. Similarly, our soldiers have relentlessly trained for their various events. These are clear indications of our strong will and desire for safe and successful conduct of the Games,” AFP chief-of-staff, Gen. Noel Clement said.
Present during the send-off ceremonies were Lorenzana, other ranking defense and military officials as well as senior officials of the Office of Civil Defense, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Center, Philippine National Police, and the SEA Games Organizing Committee.
Also present are the detailed officials, personnel, and volunteers from the Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, the Bureau of Fire Protection.
“On behalf of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, I offer my heartfelt support to our athlete-soldiers and coaches joining the 30th SEA Games. Show the world your discipline and dedication and may you have God’s favor,” Clement said.
27K cops deployed
PNP spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac said a total of 27,440 police officers will be deployed in the venues in Metro Manila, Laguna, Bulacan, Tagaytay, Subic and New Clark City sports complex in Capas, Tarlac for the sporting event.
Some 18,105 policemen will be deployed in Metro Manila, 6,554 in Central Luzon, 1,865 in Southern Luzon and 916 in La Union.
Aside from police officers, 20,000 personnel from different agencies will also be deployed for the augmentation for sports events of SEA Games, PNP officer-in-charge, Lt. Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa said.
“We are putting our best foot forward for the regional sporting event among our Asean neighbors. We have started preparation since last year, we continue to rehearse and fine-tune all our systems and procedures for this event, such that we have established full back-up system that will address any unforeseen situation that may arise,” Gamboa told reporters in a press briefing in Camp Crame.
Gamboa also said the PNP contingent will also provide security coverage in the different venues while other PNP units will provide public safety assistance necessary for order maintenance and police services for crowd control, vehicular and pedestrian traffic direction, route, parking and venue security.
Over 10,000 athletes from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Timor Leste, Singapore and Vietnam will participate in 543 sports events.
The 30th SEA Games will open on November 30 at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan and will be held in different venues in Metro Manila, Clark, Pampanga, and Subic, Zambales. It will conclude at the New Clark City on December 11.
The country won its first-ever SEA Games overall championship in 2005, the last time it hosted the biennial meet.
The Philippines also hosted the 1981 and 1991 editions of the SEA Games. (with reports from Lloyd Caliwan/PNA)
Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Monday said he is not inclined to recommend another extension of martial law in Mindanao once the third extension ends on December 31.
“We are waiting for the recommendation of the Armed Forces at saka yung (and of the) PNP (Philippine National Police), depende sa kanilang (it will depend on their) recommendation but kung ako lang (as for me), I will not recommend anymore the extension,” he said in an interview Monday.
When asked for his reasons, the DND chief said a stronger Human Security Act is a more viable approach.
“Matagal nang masyado eh (It is already too long). (So that) we can do our job, kaya nga (that is why) especially if the Senate or the Congress can pass the Human Security Act na nabigyan ng konting ngipin yung ating (which will give more teeth to our) law enforcement, then that’s a better arrangement than martial law,” Lorenzana added.
However, the DND chief said he will act accordingly in case the AFP and PNP decide to recommend another extension.
“We’ll see, we’ll evaluate the reasons of the military and the police and act accordingly,” Lorenzana added.
The House of Representatives, voting 235-28-1 in a joint session on Dec. 12, 2018, approved the extension of martial law in Mindanao for the third time until Dec. 31, 2019.
The AFP recommended another year-long extension of martial law in Mindanao in its bid to neutralize terror groups still operating in the southern Philippines.
Lawmakers, in a special joint session in July 2017, granted the extension of martial law until Dec. 31, 2017, at the President’s request.
In December 2017, the Senate and House of Representatives, convening in a joint session, granted President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s second request for the extension of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus for a period of one year from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2018.
Martial law in Mindanao was declared on May 23, 2017 following attacks launched by the Maute Group in Marawi City.
While not giving any detais so as not to preempt President Rodrigo Duterte, the Department of National Defense (DND) announced that it has already forwarded its recommendation to the Chief Executive on whether or not to extend martial law in Marawi and the rest of Mindanao.
Submission took place last July 13, DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a statement Sunday.
This is six days ahead of the 60-day martial law period (Proclamation No. 216) ends on July 22.
Martial law in Marawi and the rest of Mindanao was declared on May 23 following the attacks of Maute group terrorists in the locality.
“We have submitted our position on martial law in Mindanao to the President,” the defense chief said.
Lorenzana, however, did not give additional details so as not to preempt the President.
“We will have to wait for the President’s final decision on the matter. What I submitted to him was my recommendation from the security sector as Administrator of Martial Law in Mindanao after consulting with the CSAFP (Chief-of-Staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines) Gen. (Eduardo) Año. The President has a lot more to consider,” he said.
This includes inputs from the Department of Interior and Local Government and Philippine National Police, other government agencies and the people of Mindanao.
“I fully trust the President’s judgment on this whether he considers my recommendations or not,” the DND chief stated.
Lorenzana, who was also designated as Chairperson of Task Force “Bangon Marawi” to rebuild and rehabilitate Marawi, acknowledges that the work ahead after the fighting is even more daunting considering the extent of damage wrought into the city.
“While we have already begun laying the foundation for the reconstruction, recovery, and rehabilitation of Marawi City through community engagement, coordination with various agencies and making post disaster assessments, we earnestly look forward to the end of fighting because we want our Maranao brothers and sisters who have left their homes to go back, reconstitute their interrupted lives and partner with us on how we can best rebuild Marawi into a better and more beautiful city,” he added.
“There is still a lot of work to do but I am very confident that together, as one nation, we can all help Marawi rise up from the ashes of conflict and be a better place,” the DND chief pointed out. (PNA)
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