By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) assured the public that there will be no human rights abuses under their watch in case the Congress grants the extension of martial law in Mindanao.
AFP spokesperson Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla said the AFP will submit itself to any investigation if deemed necessary, especially following reports of abuses during the height of the Marawi crisis.
“For the period that we have implemented martial law in the whole of Mindanao, if there were any serious offenses committed by the military, we’re open to any investigation and we have said that.
“We are a transparent organization, we abide by human rights, and we respect human rights, and we abide by international humanitarian law,” he added.
According to Padilla, the soldiers made sure to follow the rules of engagement and will continue to do so in case martial law gets extended.
The AFP and the PNP are both pushing for the recommendation of martial law being implemented in Mindanao which is set to expire by yearend after being extended for five months last July.
The AFP cited the need to keep Mindanao safe and secure from threats of remaining terrorists, other armed groups, and the increase of violent incidents involving the communist rebels.
The Task Force Bangon Marawi, on the other hand, is also pushing for the extension of martial law in Mindanao to ensure the speedy rehabilitation of the war-torn city.
CHR welcomed to probe Batangas encounter
Padilla also said that the AFP welcomes the investigation of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on the encounter between the government forces and the New People’s Army (NPA) which resulted to the death of 15 rebels in Nasugbo, Batangas late November.
“If the CHR wishes to investigate, yes, by all means, please do so. So that the truth will come out,” he said.
“All the incidents that we have had by far with the NPA have been legitimate and deliberate military operations that have targeted known members of the NPA,” he added.
“And we have nothing to fear, we have nothing to hide, we will openly and we will support the CHR in its investigation because we are confident that we are on the right side here,” he continued.