MARAWAI – Endorsing the idea that the attack in Marawi City was an “invasion,” the government said on Friday that foreign terrorists were killed in the clash which has so far claimed 44 lives.
Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said at a televised press briefing in Davao City that militants from neighboring countries in Southeast Asia region were among the fatalities in the the firefight since Tuesday.
“We are continuously verifying that there have been a number of them who have been killed,” Padilla said.
“There is a certain information that we received which confirmed the killing of 12 members of this group and half of that are foreign terrorist Malaysians, Indonesians, and one other,” he added.
At the same news conference, Solicitor General Jose Calida said he thinks the inclusion of foreign terrorists among the attackers fulfills one of the requirements in the Constitution to justify the declaration of martial law.
“What is happening in Mindanao is no longer a rebellion of Filipino citizens,” Calida told reporters in Manila. “It has transmogrified into an invasion by foreign terrorists who heeded the clarion call of [the Islamic State].”
Some law experts have in the past days disputed the President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law, saying the incident in Marawi was terrorism and not a rebellion, which entails public uprising in an effort to remove a certain territory from the Philippine jurisdiction. Invasion and rebellion are the only two conditions under the Constitution for martial law.
“Terrorism has no political purpose of taking out a part of the Philippines or a part of the armed forces from the jurisdiction of the Philippines,” lawyer Christian Monsod, among the framers of the Constitution, told Philstar.com.
Monsod suggested that Duterte could have chosen to declare martial law over Marawi instead of including the whole of Mindanao.
In 2013, a faction of rebel group Moro National Liberal Front marched into and laid siege to Zamboanga City and attempted to raise the flag of the self-proclaimed Bangsamoro Republik at Zamboanga City Hall. The security crisis, which was not labeled a condition for martial law, lasted for three weeks.
The presence of foreign militants in the country has been a problem to authorities even before the raid of ISIS-inspired Maute group, the military official said.
Gen. Padilla said the foreign terrorist have been helping the local armed group in skills related to terrorism, particularly in bomb making.
“Based on what we have so far and based on the accomplishments that we have been able do the last months, yes there were foreign terrorist who are among those killed in many of our operations,” the AFP spokesperson said.
He added that they have already asked concerned governments to cooperate on whatever assistance can be provided as well as what they can do to resolve the matter.
On the fourth day of the clash, death toll rose to 44, as 31 Maute terrorists have been neutralized. However, the government also lost 11 soldiers and two police officers on their end.
President Rodrigo Duterte has already placed Mindanao under martial law due to threat to security. — with reports from the Associated Press
By AJ Bolando | Philippine Star