AFP vows to uphold human rights in wake of SC ruling

By Priam Nepomuceno

February 6, 2018, 4:42 pm

MANILA -- The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) assured the public that it would perform its security duties in the war-torn region with respect to human rights and International Humanitarian Law.

AFP made the statement in response to the Supreme Court's (SC) decision upholding the constitutionality of the year-long martial law extension in Mindanao.

"We would like to assure our people further that your AFP will faithfully perform its duty to protect the people and secure the state respecting Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law," AFP spokesperson Col. Edgard Arevalo said in a message Tuesday.

In the same vein, Arevalo said the AFP expressed its gratitude to the SC “for allowing us to perform the fresh mandate given to the military by the President and by Congress”.

"The decision is a vote of confidence to the AFP and we would like to assure our countrymen that, just as we have done before, the AFP will continue to protect our people against all rebel forces," he added.

Martial law in Mindanao was declared on May 23, 2017 following heavy attacks of Maute Group terrorists in Marawi City.

Congress, in a special joint session in July, granted the extension of martial law until Dec. 31, 2017 at the President's request.

The Senate and House of Representatives, convening in a joint session early December last year, granted President Rodrigo Duterte's request for the extension of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of writ of habeas corpus for a period of one year from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2018.

A total of 240 members of Congress voted to approve the resolution of both houses calling for martial law extension in Mindanao, while only 27 voted against it. There was no abstention.

A total of 14 senators voted in favor of the motion and four were against it, while 226 House members approved the motion and 23 rejected it.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, meanwhile, echoed the AFP's remarks while stressing that the SC ruling will now enable the government to "pursue with great vigor its efforts in ending the continuing rebellion in Mindanao decisively."

With this, Lorenzana assured that troops will strive harder in performing their duties to safeguard public safety in Mindanao and provide necessary assistance to Task Force Bangon Marawi in a bid to undertake the unhampered rehabilitation of the war-torn city.

"Makaaasa ang sambayanan na hindi sasayangin ng inyong mga tagapagtanggol ang tiwala at pagkakataong ito (Rest assured that our defenders will value this opportunity and trust of the public)," Lorenzana said in a statement. (PNA)