The Supreme Court is in a fix. Its members will have to put their life or limb where their mouths are. If they say there is no need for martial law, either in Marawi or in the rest of Mindanao, they could be challenged and told why don’t you go to central Marawi and check if you have no fear of Maute snipers. Of course, a sensible person would not dare stroll along Marawi’s balmy streets.
Here is the balance of Solicitor General Joe Calida’s report to the SC justifying martial law in Mindanao:
The government has noted the increased occurrences of military encounters with these ISIS-inspired local rebel groups. One of these battles occurred on Aug. 29, 2016 when members of the ASG ambushed and killed fifteen (15) army soldiers in Patikul, Sulu. Moreover, there was a notable increase in terror attacks against the civilian population.
On the night of Sept. 2, 2016, Davao City was rocked with a fatal bombing incident in a populous night market. Fifteen (15) civilians were killed and sixty-seven (67) others were injured. According to military intelligence reports, the ASG perpetrated the Davao bombing.
Due to the then-increasing concerted attacks against the military and the populace, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte issued Proclamation No. 55 entitled, “Declaring a State of National Emergency on Account of Lawless Violence in Mindanao‚ on Sept. 4, 2016.”
He acted pursuant to Section 18, Article VII of the Constitution which authorized him to call out the armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence.
But the ISIS-inspired local rebel groups continued to wreak havoc in Mindanao. The following incidents are confirmed by the military to have been perpetrated by these rebel groups:
• On Nov. 5, 2016, the ASG abducted a German national, Juergen Kantner, and killed his wife, Sabine Merz;
• On Dec. 28, 2016, the Maute group bombed the town plaza of Hilongos, Leyte injuring 34 people;
• On Dec. 28, 2016, the members of BIFF lobbed two (2) grenades at the provincial office of Shariff Maguindanao;
• On Jan. 13, 2017, an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded in Barangay Campo Uno, Basilan thereby killing one (1) civilian and injuring another;
• On Jan. 19, 2017, the ASG kidnapped three (3) Indonesian crew members near Bakungan Island, Tawi-Tawi;
• On Jan. 29, 2017, the ASG detonated an IED in Barangay Danapah, Basilan resulting in the death of two (2) children and the wounding of three (3) others;
• On Feb. 16, 2017, the Maute Group ambushed and killed two (2) military officers; From February to May 2017, there were eleven (11) separate instances of IED explosions by the BIFF in Mindanao. This resulted in the death and wounding of several personalities;
• On Feb. 26, 2017, the ASG beheaded its German kidnap victim, Juergen Kantner in Sulu;On April 11, 2017, the ASG infiltrated Inabanga, Bohol leading to firefights between the rebels and government troops;
• On April 13, 2017, the ASG beheaded Filipino kidnap victim, Noel Besconde; and
• On April 20, 2017, the ASG kidnapped SSg. Anni Siraji and beheaded him three (3) days later.
AFP intelligence reports claim as early as April 18, April 2017, Abdullah Maute had dispatched his followers to the cities of Marawi, Iligan, and Cagayan de Oro to conduct bombing operations, carnapping, and liquidation of AFP and PNP personnel in the said areas.
On April 22 to 25, 2017, the rebel group, led by Hapilon, engaged in armed offensives against the military in Piagapo, Lanao del Sur. The government offensives, which involved a combination of ground assaults and airstrikes, forced the rebel group to flee to Marawi City.
Military forces spotted Hapilon in Marawi City sometime in early May 2017. Specifically, on May 18, 2017, intelligence reports revealed that the ISIS-inspired local rebel groups were planning to occupy Marawi City, and to raise the ISIS flag at the provincial capitol.
This intelligence report was confirmed through a video recovered by government forces in the lairs of the Maute group during the course of their military operation on 23 May 2017. The video shows the ASG and Maute Group leaders planning their attack of Marawi City.
On May 23, 2017, Hapilon was seen at the safe house of the ISIS-inspired local rebel groups in Barangay Basak Malutlut, Marawi City. A joint military and police operation to serve a warrant of arrest and to capture Hapilon and the Maute group operational leaders for kidnapping for ransom was initiated. The focused military operation started with an encounter at 1:30 in the afternoon between government forces and ISIS-inspired local rebel group members. This was followed by a series of encounters throughout the day in different parts of Marawi City.
The ISIS-inspired local rebel groups had intended to burn down the entire city of Marawi on the day of Ramadan, or on May 26, 2017. The attack would have been the precursor for other rebel groups to stage their own uprisings across Mindanao to simultaneously establish a wilayah in the region. However, the attack was foiled when government troops attempted to serve the warrant on May 23, 2017 on Hapilon. This forced the ISIS-inspired local rebel groups to prematurely execute their planned siege of Marawi.
About 500 armed men marched down Marawi’s main streets and swiftly occupied strategic positions throughout the city. Snipers positioned themselves atop buildings and began shooting at government troops. The rebel groups were equipped with rocket-propelled grenades and ammunition for high-powered assault rifles.
They occupied the Philhealth Office and Salam Hospital in Barangay Lilod. They burned three (3) buildings: the Marawi City Jail, Landbank Moncado Branch, and Senator Ninoy Aquino Foundation College. They also kidnapped and killed innocent civilians. In their rampage, the rebel groups brandished the black ISIS flag and hoisted it in the locations that they occupied.
The attacks resulted in the shutdown of stations of local courts.
From May 23, 2017 to June 1, 2017, one hundred twenty (120) rebels were neutralized, while thirty-eight (38) government troops were killed in action. Government troops had rescued 1,453 civilians as of 1 June 2017.
By June 11, 2017, there were 191 casualties.
Over 20,000 or over 100,000 people were affected by the armed conflict. At least 3,000 or 14,000 people are in evacuation centers. The rest are staying outside evacuation centers with relatives in nearby areas.
Upon being informed of the crisis in Marawi, President Duterte, on the night of May 23, 2017, Philippine time, issued Proclamation No. 216, pursuant to Section 18, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution.
More than two weeks after Proclamation No. 216 was issued, government troops have yet to fully secure Marawi City.