MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police called on the public to exercise care when posting about Marawi City on social media to ease the confusion about what is happening there and avoid worsening the situation.
However, security officials themselves could not agree on how to describe the Maute group, which has been engaging government forces in Marawi since Tuesday afternoon, with PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Dionardo Carlos insisting the local extremists have no ties to the Islamic State and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana saying they do.
At a press briefing Wednesday morning, Carlos said there was no truth to posts on social media that the Maute group had taken control of Marawi and appealed to netizens to post only “what they see … do ot speculate.”
He also denied reports the extremists had seized control of a hospital, saying they had only sought medical attention for a wounded comrade then left, or that the police station had been burned.
Carlos quoted the military as saying they had the situation under control and that ongoing fighting was the result of “diversionary tactics” by the Maute group.
Thus far, he said, the government has lost three dead — two soldiers and a police officer.
At the same time, Carlos maintained that the Maute group “are not ISIS … walang ISIS ditto (there is no ISIS here).”
However, in a press conference in Moscow where President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law over Mindanao was announced late Tuesday night Manila time, Lorenzana was asked what group exactly was involved in the Marawi violence.
His reply: “It is actually Maute/ISIS because they are the same.”
He added that reports he received from Baghdad was that “they are already seeing these pictures in the website of ISIS … in the Middle East.”