Duterte: Lifting of martial law depends on police, military recommendation
President Rodrigo Duterte said that lifting of martial law in Mindanao would depend on the recommendation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police.
In a press conference in Davao City on Saturday, Duterte also defended the soldiers who allegedly committed abuses in war-torn Marawi City.
"You know, declaration of martial law is always dependent to what the Armed Forces and the police recommend. They are the two entities that would be relied upon heavily by a president or head of state when he entertains something like extreme measures - martial law, state of emergency," he said.
He said since the AFP and the PNP who would engage those causing trouble, "we should give credence to (them) actually."
"I do not think that they'd fabricate events," Duterte added.
The military earlier said that martial law might be extended beyond December 31 if threats of other local terrorists continue to persist.
Meanwhile, Duterte expressed belief that the soldiers were not engage in looting in Marawi.
"No, I do not believe that the soldiers were...how could they steal? I was there. And they were billeted in houses. And they were using the amenities of that house," he said.
Earlier reports said that some soldiers looted some of the houses, which were left by the residents who evacuated during the five-month operation against the Islamic State-inspired Maute terrorists.
Duterte wondered how the appliances and pieces of furniture could be carted away by the soldiers.
"I am not ready to task my soldiers...when they go home, they have been (carrying) knapsack...I went to places where they used to confer and I attended one using electric fan, probably also borrowed. But I do not think my soldiers would (steal). They knew that," he said.
"They are military men and they really do what is ordered of them," he said, adding that the soldiers might only borrowed those appliances.
Aside from looting, the military was also accused of other human rights violations in Marawi.
Amnesty International has said that it "documented violations of international human rights law committed by Philippine government forces,” which includes the alleged violation on the prohibition of torture and pillage.
On its report the human rights group was calling the Philippine government “to conduct a prompt, effective and impartial investigation into the allegations of serious violations of international humanitarian law.”
The group also urged the government to ensure that all the victims of abuses “are afforded an effective remedy and reparations, including restitution, compensation, rehabilitation and guarantees of non-repetition.” Ella Dionisio/DMS