VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Pending enactment of anti-terror bill, Locsin repeats false claim that drug ops vs. terrorist leader caused Marawi siege

For at least the third time, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro “Teddy Boy” Locsin Jr. falsely claimed that the serving of a warrant of arrest for illegal drugs triggered the Marawi siege.


In a tweet on June 7, Locsin said that President Rodrigo Duterte was right in saying the Marawi siege started following the serving of an arrest warrant for “drug dealing”:

“Idiot said on TV they had to release a suspected terrorist days after they arrested him. What, no evidence to warrant his arrest? 3 days later (the) suspect led (the) takeover of Marawi. Our President correctly said that Marawi (siege) began after a warrant of arrest for drug dealing was served.”

Source: Teodoro Locsin Jr. official Twitter account, “Idiot said on TV…,” June 7, 2020

This was at least the third time that Locsin inaccurately claimed the arrest warrant served on slain Abu Sayyaf faction leader Isnilon Hapilon and two leaders of the Maute group in Marawi City pertained to illegal drugs. The first time was during his speech before the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in 2019. He repeated the claim on the third anniversary of the Marawi siege on May 23. (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Locsin’s claim that arrest of Islamic drug lord ‘triggered’ Marawi siege needs context and VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Duterte, Locsin repeat claim Marawi siege caused by anti-drug ops)

Duterte was the first to peddle the wrong claim in 2018 when he contradicted official records, even his own justification of the initial martial law declaration in Mindanao, that the cause of the war was “not an overt act of rebellion” but a “drug raid gone awry.” (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Duterte revises Marawi story, contradicts martial law justification)


The arrest warrant that state forces tried to serve on Hapilon on May 23, 2017 was for kidnapping for ransom, according to the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) in its counter-argument against petitions before the Supreme Court (SC) opposing Duterte’s declaration of a Mindanao-wide martial law.

In its consolidated comment to the petitions in 2017, the OSG, which serves as the government’s legal defender, did not say that Hapilon was apprehended by the joint forces of police and military for illegal drugs.

Hapilon’s involvement in drugs was not also mentioned in Duterte’s proclamation and report to Congress justifying martial law.

Law enforcers failed to arrest Hapilon due to armed resistance of groups backing him, which then led to a firefight in Marawi that “escalated into open hostility against the government.”

Listed as a terrorist by the United States and the United Nations, Hapilon was pursued by the military for his plan to establish a “wilayah” or province or territory in Central Mindanao for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) as its designated “emir” or leader in Southeast Asia.

In June 2017, the Armed Forces of the Philippines announced that Duterte was offering a P10-million bounty for the “neutralization” of Hapilon, who had a standing arrest warrant for “kidnapping for ransom and serious illegal detention.”

The Marawi siege lasted five months until October 2017, following the killing of Hapilon and Omar Maute in a military operation.

Outspoken on Twitter where he usually posts comments on various issues, Locsin voiced his support for the controversial Anti-Terror Bill, which was transmitted to Malacanang on June 9 for the president’s signature.

In a June 7 tweet, Locsin said he has already started reading the bill, which he must “defend before (the) UN Security Council” as part of his “duty” as foreign secretary.

The anti-terror bill, certified as urgent by Duterte to repeal the Human Security Act (HSA) of 2007, allows warrantless arrests and extends the number of days of detention of suspected terrorists from three to 14 days without a warrant, which can be extended for 10 more days. (See VERA FILES FACT SHEET: What you need to know about the Senate’s anti-terrorism bill)

In a separate tweet, Locsin said “length of detention and extension by 10 days is perfectly reasonable.”


ERRATUM: An earlier version of the article mistakenly stated that suspected terrorists under the Human Security Act of 2007 may be detained without a warrant for a period of four days instead of three. We apologize for the mistake.



Teodoro “Teddy Boy” Locsin Jr. official Twitter account, Idiot said on TV…, June 7, 2020

Office of the Solicitor General, OSG Consolidated Comment on Martial Law, June 12, 2017

Office of the Solicitor General, About the Office, Accessed June 8, 2020

Supreme Court, GR 2395935, Feb. 6, 2018

Official Gazette, Proclamation No. 216, May 23, 2017

Presidential Communications Operations Office, Duterte declares Martial Law in Mindanao, cuts short Russia trip MOSCOW, Russia, May 23, 2017

Hapilon killed in Marawi siege

United States Federal Bureau of Investigation, Isnilon Totoni Hapilon

United Nations Security Council, ISNILON TOTONI HAPILON

AFP hunting Hapilon as ISIS leader in Southeast Asia

Armed Forces of the Philippines, PRRD offers P10 Million bounty for Hapilon, June 6, 2017

Congress of the Philippines, Committee Report No.340, Accessed June 8, 2020

Teodoro “Teddy Boy” Locsin Jr. official Twitter account, This is my duty... June 7, 2020

Anti-terror Bill for signature of Duterte

No penalty for wrong detention in Anti-terror bill

Teodoro ‘Teddy Boy’ Locsin Jr. official Twitter account, Length of detention…, June 7, 2020

Official Gazette, Republic Act 9372 or Human Security Act of 2007


(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)