DND issues guidance on declaration of martial law in Mindanao

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Soldiers ferried on truck (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 25) — "Rule of law and human rights should prevail," the Department of National Defense (DND) reminded on Thursday authorities who will carry out martial law in Mindanao.

In a memorandum issued to Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief Eduardo Año and DND agencies, it said President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of martial law in the region does not supersede rights enshrined in the 1987 Constitution.

"Any arrest, search, and seizure executed or implemented in the area or place where martial law is effective, including the filing of charges, should comply with the revised rules of court and applicable jurisprudence," said the memorandum dated May 24 signed by DND officer-in-charge Undersecretary for Civil, Veterans, and Retiree Affairs Eduardo del Rosario.

"DND bureaus and agencies involved in humanitarian activities are hereby enjoined to institute appropriate action on those affected and displaced persons by providing adequate assistance in coordination with other government agencies," the memo added.

Duterte placed Mindanao under Martial Rule on May 23 because of the crisis in Marawi City. Over 50 members of local terror group Maute entered the city and engaged in gunbattles with government troops.

He placed the entire region under martial law because of the security problems in nearby areas, such as Sulu, Zamboanga peninsula, Central Mindanao, and the Davao region.

The President on Thursday raised the possibility of expanding the area of coverage to Visayas, and even nationwide.

"I might also decide to suspend the writ of habeas corpus in the Visayas," Duterte said. The President pointed out that because of the many islands in the south that were "just walking distance" from each other, lawless elements could always escape to any of them.

Eleven bandits from the Abu Sayyaf group sailed from Sulu to the island province of Bohol in April in an attempt to kidnap tourists from the popular tourist destinations there, police and military said.

He added, "If I think that the ISIS has already taken foothold also in Luzon and terrorism is really not far behind, I might declare martial law throughout the country to protect the people."

Duterte assured FIlipinos there will be no abuses of any kind under Martial Law, but he would be "harsh" in enforcing the law.

He added checkpoints, warrantless arrests and searches would be allowed in Mindanao, "If you are identified positively on the other side, you can be arrested and detained."

On Thursday, he appointed Año as martial law adminstrator.

Año said on Thursday the AFP will follow the rule of law to avoid abuses.