MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo has declined to give her opinion on martial law in Mindanao, preferring to wait until President Rodrigo Duterte makes an official declaration before airing her sentiments.
However, she said she is confident the 1987 Constitution has enough safeguards to prevent abuse.
Interviewed by media at Armed Forces of the Philippines headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, she noted that even military officials who briefed her about the situation in Marawi City Wednesday morning were inclined to wait for the official declaration by Duterte, who is on his way home after cutting short his official visit to Russia.
Robredo urged Filipinos to be united at this time and to have faith in the AFP and its ability to end the terrorist acts in Marawi City.
“Kung ano iyong kinakailangang gawin para, una, sabi po ng liderato ng AFP kanina, iyong pinakagusto nilang mangyari ngayon, ito iyong pinaka-target nila, ma-normalize ulit iyong sitwasyon sa Marawi. So ano iyong kinakailangan para mangyari iyon, susuportahan natin, at hinihikayat natin ang lahat na sumuporta din (Whatever it is that needs to be done, like the AFP leadership said earlier, what they want the most, what they are targeting, is to normalize the situation in Marawi. So whatever it is that is needed, let us support them, and we encourage everyone to support them, too)” she said.
She also noted the AFP had vowed to respect people’s “basic rights.”
Pressed about whether martial law might be abused, Robredo said it was hard to say given that similar incidents might happen in other areas of Mindanao.
“Pero iyong isang pakiusap din natin sa lahat, at iyon din ang pakiusap ng AFP, na sa pagiging kalmado natin, bahagi nito iyong pagiging responsable. Marami po ngayong impormasyon na lumalabas sa social media na hindi naman totoo. At nag–ko-cause lang siya ng alarm sa ating lahat, hindi siya nakakatulong. Pangalawa, iyong mga terrorista, iyong terrorismo, ito ang pinakakalaban natin. Kaya dapat pagtulungan natin na hindi bigyan ng hindi nararapat na, alam mo iyon, recognition iyong mga ginagawa nila (But our appeal to everyone, and this is the AFP’s appeal, too, is that in our staying calm, a part of this is being responsible. There is a lot of false information coming out of social media. And this is causing alarm to everyone; it doesn’t help. Second, terrorists, terrorism, are our main enemy. So let us cooperate with each other so that we do not give, you know, recognition to what they are doing),” she said.
WATCH OVP VIDEO OF VICE PRESIDENT LENI ROBREDO IN CAMP AGUINALDO:
So far, AFP officials told her they had the situation in Marawi under control.
She quoted them as saying they advised people to stay indoors and discouraged them from evacuating to a common area because this would make them more vulnerable.
“Tayo po, nagpapasalamat tayo sa ating mga sundalo at kapulisan sa patuloy na pangangalaga sa ating seguridad. Sila po ang napapalaban ngayon kaya kinakailangan talaga nila ang suporta at tulong nating lahat (As for us, we thank our soldiers and police for continuing to maintain our security. They are forced to fight now, so they really need our support and help),” Robredo said.
“Ito po iyong panahon na kailangan tayong magkaisa. Ito iyong panahon na kailangang pangalagaan nating sabay-sabay iyong seguridad ng ating bansa. Hindi ito iyong panahon para maghiwa-hiwalay pa tayo (This is they time for us to be united. This is the time that we must safeguard, together, our nation’s security. This is not the time for us to be divided),” she added.
Meanwhile, Robredo also sought the public’s help for the relief operations that her office would mount for the communities displaced and affected by the fighting. She said that local government officials of Marawi City would give her a go signal once details about the logistics were clearer.