MANILA-- Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana took exception to reports made by some leftist groups claiming that women in Marawi City are fearful of being raped by troops now deployed there to neutralize the remaining Maute Group terrorists.
"I question the motives and credibility of certain leftist groups and individuals in coming up with a dubious report that Marawi women residents allegedly fear that they will be raped by soldiers in the ongoing military operations in Marawi City," he said in a statement Monday.
Lorenzana also called these efforts counter-productive as these factions are apparently out to worsen the almost six-week conflict with unproven and spurious reports.
Fighting in Marawi City erupted when military forces tried to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, the "Emir" of ISIS in Southeast Asia, last May 23.
As of this posting, the death toll in ongoing fighting is placed at 268 Maute Group terrorists, 70 soldiers and police officers and 26 civilians.
"While the nation continues to suffer from the havoc wrought by the ongoing rebellion in Marawi and atrocities in various parts of Mindanao, some factions obviously have a lot of free time on matters other than helping improve the situation," he added.
The DND chief said such accusations are impossible to believe as all military personnel have undergone a series of gender sensitivity trainings under Gender and Development (GAD) program.
"These trainings focus on participation, empowerment, equity, respect for human rights, freedom from violence, and actualization of fullest human potential not just of soldiers but the communities where these soldiers operate as well," Lorenzana stressed.
Also, he said many of these soldiers and other security troops, tarred by these unproven accusations, have already paid the ultimate price in helping to free Marawi City of its Maute Group invaders.
"To this day, close to 70 soldiers and policemen have already paid the ultimate sacrifice in the defense of Marawi City and our people, with many more wounded and in need of serious medical attention," the DND chief pointed out.
Lorenzana said that the groups behind this imaginary reports want the government to fail in its ongoing fight against terrorism in order to advance their selfish motives
He also stressed that these organizations are often silent whenever members of the New People's Army are reported looting, murdering, raping, and destroying public and private properties in the countryside.
"I challenge the organizations where the information originated to present their evidence and lodge a complaint before the proper authorities if they can, and not just throw away accusations like they are reading lines from their same old propaganda for almost five decades now which the Filipino people have grown tired of hearing," Lorenzana concluded.
Source: Philippines News Agency