MANILA - Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Monday dismissed as "fake news" claims that women caught in the Marawi City war zone fear being raped by soldiers.
The martial law administrator dared those making such claims to show evidence and file appropriate charges.
"Linawin ko lang po: Ang ating kasundaluhan at kapulisan ay nasa Marawi upang labanan ang mga teroristang gustong gawing pugad ng kasamaan ang siyudad, at upang pigilan na lumawak pa ang kaguluhan," Lorenzana stressed in a statement.
(Let me clarify: The military and the police are in Marawi to fight terrorists who want to turn the area into a haven for evil, and to prevent a spread of violence.)
Left-wing groups groups last week claimed Marawi women were forced to seek refuge in evacuation centers due to fear of getting raped by soldiers.
Iglesia Filipina Independiente priest Chris Ablon said President Rodrigo Duterte's joke that he would take up the cudgels for soldiers who might commit rape under martial law caused the fear.
"Mas mainam siguro na buksan nila ang kanilang isip at puso sa totoong nangyayari at huwag magpakawala ng mga tsismis at fake news," Lorenzana said.
(It would be better if they open their eyes and hearts to what is really happening and not spread rumors and fake news.)