Civilian Maranao to be named as spokesperson for updates on Marawi crisis
A civilian Maranao spokesperson will be appointed to provide updates on the ongoing government offensive operations against the Maute Terror Group in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, Malacanang said on Sunday.
"In this time of crisis, it is strategically wise for us to expand our communications language from national to regional in order to avoid marginalizing those who are most affected by the declaration of Martial Law," said Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar in a statement.
According to him, the move is part of the PCOO's establishment of the "Mindanao Hour" Communications Center in Davao City which will serve as the main source of accurate and reliable information on the declaration of martial law in Mindanao.
President Rodrigo Duterte has placed the entire Mindanao under martial law following the attack of the Islamic State follower Maute Group starting May 23 in Marawi City. Military operations continue in the city as the number of casualties and evacuees continues to rise.
All processed information from conflict areas will be relayed to the Mindanao Hour Communications Center in Davao and to Malaca?ang for the regular press briefings in Manila and Davao, the PCOO said.
The Mindanao Hour Communications Center in Davao will be headed by Andanar while the Iligan Mindanao Hour Communications Center will be headed by Philippine Information Agency (PIA) Director General Harold Clavite.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella, in a separate statement, said there will be Mindanao Hour every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and this will start on May 29 at the New Executive Building in Malacanang to give updates on what has been happening on the ground in Marawi and other parts of Mindanao.
Additional updates may be given every Tuesday and Thursday during his press briefing, Abella said.
There will also be updates through state-run Radyo ng Bayan every Saturday and Sunday at 11am to be led by military spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla and Abella.
Meanwhile, amid criticisms against Duterte's martial law declaration, Abella said, "the President's focus is on addressing the terrorist threat in Mindanao, not on the misguided commentaries of critics."
He said the President is committed to succeed in his mission and to restoring peace and order so that people in Mindanao can fully participate in the nation's development.
Human rights groups have been criticizing Duterte for declaring martial law in the whole Mindanao due to their concerns on human rights abuses.
Criticisms even heightened following his joke before the soldiers in Iligan City on Friday that if they raped three people, he would assume the responsibility. Celerina Monte/DMS