Lawmakers blame 'failure of intel' for Marawi City siege

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 24 2017 08:11 PM

MANILA – The House Minority wants government to accounts for its intelligence funds this year as it accused the administration of a failure of intelligence following deadly clashes between government troops and the terrorist Maute group in Marawi City Tuesday.

While generally supportive of President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law, the minority questioned government’s measures to prevent situations such as the Marawi City incident, despite the allocation of over P3 billion in intelligence this year.

Lawmakers also said senior government officials had left the country unattended when they joined Duterte on his official trip to Russia earlier this week. The Marawi City incident prompted the president to rush back home. 

"The Secretary of National Defense, the [head of the] PNP (Philippine National Police), head of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines), andoon lahat sa Russia. There's a failure of intelligence, mukhang ‘di nila alam na may mangyayari sa Mindanao. When the president called upon the AFP to suppress and prevent lawless violence, iyong subordinates na lang tinawagan sa baba kasi karamihan naroon sa Russia," said AKO Bicol Party-list Rep. Alfredo Garbin.

Buhay Party-list Rep. Lito Atienza also said the administration should learn its lesson and avoid bringing along all high-ranking officialsin official presidential trips overseas “as a guarantee and assurance” that wise governance decisions could be made at home despite the President's absence. 

Meanwhile, the Makabayan bloc blamed the presence of too many military officials in the cabinet for the declaration of martial law in Mindanao, prompting the Gabriela Party-list to file a bill that would ban military officers from being appointed to posts in the executive branch.

Gabriela Party List Rep. Emmy de Jesus said that the government was inconsistent, as it declared martial law while claiming that the situation in Marawi City was “under control.” 

"We don’t find material basis for the president to declare martial law. There have been inconsistent reports from the AFP they are under control," Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao said.

Vice President Leni Robredo, who is supposed to watch over the country when Duterte is abroad, was asked to stop attending Cabinet meetings late last year, and quit her Cabinet post in December.

In separate statements Wednesday, she and the Palace expressed full confidence in the AFP and PNP’s handling of the Maute group in Marawi City.