PHILIPPINES — As the government moves to end a raging rebellion in Marawi City by Islamic militants, President Duterte has authorized top defense and military officials to take measures to resolve the threat, including obtaining foreign assistance, Malacañang said yesterday.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said the President gave such discretion to the Department of Defense and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) shortly after placing Mindanao under martial law.
Abella made the clarification after the President said he was unaware about United States (US) assistance in the government’s counter-terrorism efforts. Duterte had earlier said he did not seek the help of the US in fighting the Islamic extremists in Marawi but is grateful for its help.
“The President said in a media interview in Cagayan de Oro that as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, he allowed the Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to decide on matters pertaining to martial law,” Abella said.
Under General Order No. 1 that implements the proclamation of martial rule in Mindanao, Abella said Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana was designated as the martial law administrator while AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Año was named implementor.
“They can undertake all measures to prevent and suppress all acts of rebellion and lawless violence, including seeking technical assistance from the United States, within the limits prescribed by the Constitution,” Abella said.
The United States troops are reportedly helping the Armed Forces with the operations in Marawi in the areas of surveillance and intelligence. The assistance was reportedly made at the request of the Philippine government.
Malacañang said US participation in the Marawi operations is limited to technical assistance. American troops are not involved in combat operations, which is prohibited by the Constitution, it added.
Source: Manila Bulletin