Saturday| June 24, 2017
Martial law allowed warrantless arrests in Mindanao in connection with the terror attack on Marawi City but not warrantless searches which a lawyers’ group said were being conducted by soldiers in the hunt for members of a homegrown terror group, according to an opposition lawmaker.
Rep. Edcel Lagman, who was also one of several petitioners at the Supreme Court against President Duterte’s martial law Proclamation No. 216, submitted to the high court a three-page statement of Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) in a bid to convince justices to strike down the proclamation as unconstitutional.
The proclamation suspended the writ of habeas corpus, which prohibits warrantless arrests.
In its statement, the IBP chapter in Lanao del Sur province accused government forces of ransacking houses and business establishments as they hunt for members of the Maute Group in Marawi.
In the statement, the lawyers’ group claimed that soldiers and policemen illegally entered residences and commercial buildings after Mr. Duterte declared martial law on May 23.
It said the illegal searches led to “rampant loss” of pieces of property belonging to civilians.
It added that “utterly shocked” was a mild term to describe how the lawyers felt about the “wanton disregard” of “sanctity of domicile.”
But Zia Alongto Adiong, spokesperson of the Lanao del Sur crisis management committee, said soldiers and policemen are helping secure houses against looting amid reports that homes and businesses are being ransacked.
He said so far at least 300 houses had been secured in three villages–Bangon, Luksadatu and Saber.
Lt. Col. Christopher Tampus, head of the First Infantry Battalion, said rescued residents had narrated forcible entries by gunmen, not soldiers.
“They forcibly open houses looking mainly for guns, ammunition, cash and jewelry,” Tampus said.
Jesus Dureza, presidential adviser on the peace process, had said proof of soldiers not being involved in the looting was the case of 1Lt Frederick Savellano and 12 of his men who found and declared P52 million in cash from a house being used by the terrorists as a machine gun post.
The IBP Lanao del Sur statement submitted by Lagman to the high court said illegal raids and searches being blamed on soldiers were “unparalleled in magnitude.”
The statement cited video footage and “pictures posted in social media” as proof of looting committed by soldiers.
The IBP Lanao del Sur chapter, however, said it supported martial law but asked Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, martial law administrator, to top illegal searches or face suits to be filed by the lawyers’ group.
The lawyers also asked Lorenzana to form an independent, multi-agency probe team to investigate the allegations.
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SOURCE: INQUIRER, YOUTUBE