Eastern Mindanao Command Deputy Commander Brig. Gen. Gilbert Gapay (Paulo C. Rizal/davaotoday.com)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – A month after the island of Mindanao has been placed under martial rule, Eastern Mindanao Command Deputy Commander Brigadier General Gilbert Gapay said that they have successfully “prevented the spillover of terrorism” in Eastern Mindanao.

“The success is attributed to the aggressive security operations of our units; the tightened security measures being implemented in the area; the active coordination and collaboration of other law enforcement agencies, local government units, and the support of the general public,” Gapay told reporters here Friday, June 23, during the Mindanao Hour press briefing.

On June 6, the patriarch of the Maute group, Cayamora Maute, and four others were nabbed by members of the Task Force in a checkpoint at Sirawan, Toril, Davao City.

Gapay said that a total of 13,149 checkpoints have been conducted all over Eastern Mindanao while curfews are implemented in coordination with the local government units and the Philippine National Police to 210 municipalities and barangays within the area of responsibility.

“We are continuously engaging different organizations and sectors to explain our efforts in the implementation of martial law, to continuously assess and innovate our measures and activities that will enhance its implementation,” Gapay said.

Gapay vowed that they will continue to observe the ‘safeguards’ they have established such as the multi-sector advisory group, legal action or quick reaction teams, troop information education on different guidelines as the implementation of Martial law in Mindanao continues.

Gapay said that they are proud of the “zero human rights violation” as reported by CHR central office during the one month period of Martial law implementation.

“After a month, we are also proud to report that based on the statement of the Commission on Human Rights, there is no reported abuse committed by our troops relative to the implementation of martial law,” Gapay said.

However, progressive groups slammed the CHR’s zero human rights violation claim and challenged the commission to conduct thorough investigations especially on Lumad schools and highland areas.

In a protest held in front of the CHR Region XI, activists also urged President Rodrigo Duterte to lift Martial because of the alarming increase of abuses in Mindanao.

Meanwhile, Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the government does not tolerate abuses.

“The President, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police, and the Department of National Defense Secretary, who is the Mindanao administrator for martial law, do not encourage or tolerate abuses by the military or the police in Mindanao or elsewhere,” he said.

Abella added they will investigate and punish all those who committed abuses, especially sexual violence against women.(davaotoday.com)

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