“Those who have sown terror in Mindanao and threaten the safety and security of our citizens are the enemy––not the government and certainly not our men in uniform.”

This according to Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, who on Sunday urged the public to view the President’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao as a decisive step that was necessary to neutralize terrorist elements who could claim more lives, as well as to suppress lawless violence and rebellion.

“The terrorists are the threat here. They have repeatedly shown an utter disregard for the sanctity of human life and have shown that they will not hesitate to resort to violence and mayhem to further their ends,” said the senator from Mindanao.

According to Pimentel, “the sooner this threat is neutralized, the better it will be for the people of Marawi and Mindanao.”

“President Duterte knows that at this point, extraordinary measures are necessary to contain this threat, and those of us from Mindanao understand that. The rest of the nation should understand this as well.”

Pimentel said it was reassuring that after the declaration of martial law, the Department of National Defense (DND) issued guidelines to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) with regard to its implementation.

On May 24, DND Undersecrerary Eduardo Del Rosario issued a memo addressed to the AFP, stressing that “the declaration of martial law in the island of Mindanao does not suspend the operation of the Constitution, nor supplant the functioning of Philippine judicial and legislative assemblies.”

The memo further emphasizes that “the AFP and all bureaus and agencies of this Department are hereby enjoined that the rule of law and human rights should prevail” in Mindanao.

Pimentel stressed that “our men in uniform are there in Mindanao risking life and limb to protect our people, and for that they deserve our admiration and respect.”

“As long as they operate within the bounds of our Constitution and our laws our people have nothing to fear,” added Pimentel.

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