Solicitor General Jose Calida on Friday cited an “invasion by foreign terrorists” of Mindanao as among the major justifications for President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law over the whole southern island.
At a press conference in Davao City, Calida and Brigadier General Restituto Padilla, spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said terrorists from Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore are fighting alongside gunmen of the Maute group and are among those who have been killed in the fighting in Marawi City since Tuesday.
The outbreak of violence in Marawi Tuesday prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to declare the whole of Mindanao under martial law and cut short his visit to Russia.
“What’s happening in Mindanao is no longer a rebellion of Filipino citizens” but “has transmogrified into an invasion by foreign terrorists who heeded the clarion call of the ISIS to go to the Philippines if they find difficulty in going to Iraq or Syria,” Calida said.
Padilla did clarify that a number of the foreign terrorists have been in Mindanao for years where they have been mostly engaged in training local recruits, particularly in bomb making
He said they are verifying reports that around half of the dozen extremists killed in the Marawi fighting who have been identified were foreigners.
Calida said martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus “should not be a cause of unnecessary concern for law-abiding citizens in our country” as he maintained that “the festering rebellion of the Maute terrorist (group) which has pledged allegiance to the virulent ISIS … is a compelling reason why martial law was declared.”
He claimed that ISIS and Maute publications continued orders “to attack the Philippine government and establish a ‘wilayat’ or ISIS province in Mindanao,” including targeting “people they consider as ‘infidels,’ whether Christians or Muslims … whether they are found in Marawi, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, Zamboanga, Cebu, Manila, and other cities.”
“Given the above clear and present dangers and atrocities happening in Mindanao, it is the President’s constitutional duty to unsheathe the Republic’s sword of martial law to crush the rebellion that threatens to divide our country,” Calida said. “The least we can do as law-abiding citizens is to repose our trust in the wisdom and determination of President Duterte to excise this evil from our land.”