MANILA, Philippines – While refusing to neither admit nor deny reports of a police chief killed and beheadings amid ongoing clashes between government forces and suspected Maute Group members in Marawi, the Philippine National Police (PNP) on Wednesday, May 24, urged the public to be “careful” about sharing unverified information on social media.
“We appeal to the public na yung mga postings sa (that those postings on) social media, be limited to what they know what they see,” said PNP spokesman Dionardo Carlos in a press briefing.
Carlos was referring to the deluge of posts on social media following clashes in Marawi City on Tuesday, March 23. Marawi residents posted photos of armed men, blocked roads, and ISIS flags hoisted in the city.
On Tuesday afternoon military and police encountered armed men at a barangay in Marawi City close to the Mindanao State University and the city center. Sporadic clashes continued the whole afternoon into the evening.
At least 3 fires broke out in the city as government troops moves to contain the situation.
“There seems to be an effort na ilabas na malaking malaking insidente (to make it seem that it’s a very big incident),” added Carlos, who attended a conference immediately after the press briefing.
Following the clashes in Marawi, President Rodrigo Duterte placed the entire island region of Mindanao under Martial Law. Duterte cut short an official visit to Russia because of the clashes in Marawi.
Carlos denied reports that police stations in the city had been ransacked by the terror group members.
He also said that contrary to reports, the public hospital in the city was not overtaken by alleged Maute members. “There were there to seek medical assistance,” said Carlos, citing information from the military.
“The sporadic gunfight, it’s more [for] harassing the public,” added Carlos.
While he confirmed that at least 2 soldiers and 1 policeman were dead as a result of the clashes, Carlos neither denied nor confirmed reports that the Marawi City police chief had been killed.
“We will make the necessary announcement at the right time,” he said, without going into specifics.
Carlos denied reports of beheadings in the city while admitting he was not aware of supposed kidnapping cases.
When told that a local bishop himself had confirmed a kidnapping scenario, Carlos said: “He has the firsthand information, then he declares.”
In a separate statement, the PNP insisted “security forces are in full control of the situation.”
“We are not toning down the issue. What we are doing is to not allow propaganda,” said Carlos. – Rappler.com