MANILA– Former Interior and Local Government Secretary Rafael M. Alunan III on Wednesday defended President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s swift action declaring martial law in the entire Mindanao to stop the reign of terror perpetrated by Islamist terror groups in the region.
In a press statement, Alunan rallied the Filipino people to support the President’s move “to clampdown on the clear threats to human security” when Maute militants in cahoots with the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group attacked Marawi City on Tuesday, killing people, including civilians.
The terrorists also burned a Catholic church, jails and other buildings, sowing terror in the city.
Alunan hailed the move taken by the President by declaring martial law to stop Islamic militants from their rampage killing. The terrorists also kidnapped people, including a Catholic priest.
The military and police engaged the terrorists in a heavy fighting since Tuesday.
President Duterte declared martial in Mindanao for 60 days to clamp down on the clear threats to human security Islamist terrorism, communist insurgency, syndicated crime and ecological destruction,” Alunan said.
“Right now the immediate focus is on Marawi and environs. Let us rally around the President, our beleaguered local government units and their constituents, and our security and safety forces. Let us rally behind the flag!” he added.
Alunan said the raid on Marawi City was similar to the Ipil, Zamboanga del Sur incident on April 3, 1995 where some 200 Abu Sayyaf terrorists killed 53 people, burned the public market and looted banks before fleeing.
He also condemned the terrorists for killing innocent civilians, especially those who could not recite certain Islamic verses.
Worse, Islamic militants use human shields when they are pursued by government forces, he said.
“People of Marawi, resist extremism and resist the terrorists. Unite and work closely with authorities. Defeat the threats to your lives, children, homes, businesses, schools, places of worship, and above all your precious freedom,” Alunan said.
He also said that “local government units must have their peace and order councils, crisis management teams and emergency services in place and working round the clock to protect t heir constituents and bring them to safety.”
Teamwork and information dissemination are crucial in defeating terrorism, he added.
Alunan also urged Filipinos here and abroad to “pray for peace” for the country during this crisis.