MANILA (UPDATE) - The military “will exercise its right to censure” when needed in Mindanao, where martial law has been declared following a Maute group-led attack, an official said.
Armed Forces spokesperson Restituto Padilla said, the military “will exercise its right to censure” to ensure the safety of lives of the public and that sensitive operational information do not get into the wrong hands.
Padilla said while there are no guidelines yet on the possible conduct of censorship, the public is assured that the military will uphold civilian rights and will only be “harsh” against those committing rebellion or invasion.
“On accounts of doubts expressed by many quarters, we also appeal to the public, that should you see abuses in the implementation of martial law, we encourage you to report them and on our part, we will provide you a swift probe and quick action to ensure accountability,” he said.
Padilla said the possible censorship also aims to fight disinformation that could put military operations in jeopardy.
“You have seen that the tremendous disinformation creates a thick fog of war that does not allow a better operational picture of the battlefield. It creates a lot of collateral damage, which we want to avoid,” he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte placed Mindanao under martial law after the local terrorist group, apparently aided by foreign terrorists, besieged Marawi City.
The president also suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, which means anyone charged with rebellion or invasion can be arrested without a court-issued warrant.
Sporadic clashes in the city erupted as government troops were trying to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, who has a $5-million bounty on his head.