Saturday, June 17, 2017

Troops pound Maute remnants

From the Manila Times (Jun 17): Troops pound Maute remnants

Deaths rise to 329

Philippine troops pounded Islamist militants holding parts of southern Marawi city with air strikes and artillery on Saturday as more soldiers were deployed and the death toll rose to more than 300 after nearly a month of fighting.

Fires erupted and dark plumes of smoke rose from enclaves still occupied by the militants as the air force staged bombing runs to support ground troops struggling to dislodge the fighters from entrenched positions, Agence France Presse journalists at the scene said.

MG520 attack helicopters and FA50 fighter jets were used in the raids, while sustained bursts of automatic gunfire could be heard in the distance, indicating the intensity of the fighting.

BOMBED People watch as smoke billows from houses bombed by Philippine Air Force planes in Marawi on Saturday. AFP PHOTO

President Rodrigo Duterte, appearing in public for the first time in nearly a week, said the presence of foreign fighters from the Islamic State (IS) group among the militants in Marawi have made the fighting more difficult.

“You have a conglomeration there of ISIS fighters from Syria, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lankan and Arabs,” he told soldiers during a visit to a military camp in Butuan city, northeast of Marawi, in the southern region of Mindanao.

“We have to use the air assets because we are up against fighters from the Middle East and they have learned the art of brutal killing—they will burn you, behead you,” he said.

Also on Saturday, 400 fresh troops were airlifted to Marawi from the central Philippines, ANC television said quoting military officials.

Television footage showed the soldiers bidding goodbye to their families before being flown to the conflict zone.

Hundreds of militants—supported by foreign fighters—rampaged through Marawi, the largely Christian Philippines’ most important Muslim city, on May 23 waving black flags of the Islamic State (IS) group.

Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao to counter the attack, which he said was part of a plan by IS to establish a base in the country.

Such a base could be crucial for IS’ ambitions to establish a caliphate in Southeast Asia, analysts say.

The military has said at least eight foreign fighters from Chechnya, Yemen, Malaysia and Indonesia were among the militants killed in the Marawi fighting.

Hundreds of thousands displaced

 The overall death toll rose to 329 with 310—225 militants, 59 soldiers and 26 civilian—killed in the conflict, according to government figures.

The 19 other deaths came from those displaced by the fighting, said Mujiv Hataman, the governor of a Muslim autonomous region in the south.

Hataman said the deaths among the evacuees were caused by severe dehydration.

More than 309,000 people have been displaced in Marawi and nearby areas, the government said. Many have fled to the homes of friends and relatives and others are in evacuation centers.

“Our forces are moving towards the heart of the enemy,” regional military spokesman Jo-ar Herrera told reporters in Marawi on Saturday, referring to the heavy fighting under urban conditions.

“It’s the center of gravity. This is where the location of their command and control, the leadership of the enemy.”

Ground commanders estimate “more than 100” militants are still holding out in at least four villages in Marawi, military spokesman Brigadier General Restituto Padilla said in Manila.

But he said the figures were based on estimates a few days ago “so this number could have dropped significantly.”

Padilla said the military will no longer give any self-imposed deadlines on when the militants would be driven out after failing to meet previous ones they had set.

“We are trying our best to expedite [driving them out]without unduly compromising the lives of our soldiers and at the same time the remaining civilians there,” he said.

Davao Gulf watch

 Security forces at the Davao Gulf were alerted to prevent members of the Islamic State-linked Maute group from entering Eastern Mindanao by sea, the Philippine Navy said on Saturday.

In an interview, Lt. James Reyes, public affairs chief for the Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao (NFEM), said navy vessels took over from the Philippine Coast Guard and were ordered to randomly check civilian boats and ships, especially those coming from Marawi City and neighboring areas.

“All the in-and-out boats, we check it randomly. Especially those registered as fishing boats boarding so many persons, that is really suspicious,” Reyes said.

“If we see something suspicious, even if they are riding jet skis or yachts, we will surely check that,” he added.

Mindanao was placed under martial law on May 23 following the attack on Marawi City by the Maute terrorists.

Reyes said patrol boats and gunboats have been placed along “strategic areas.”

So far there has been no attempt by terror suspects to enter the jurisdiction of the NFEM, which is headquartered in Davao City, through the sea route.

“We are not removing this kind of possibility that is why we heightened our maritime patrols,” said Reyes.

Earlier, Brig. Gen. Gilbert Gapay, martial law spokesman for Eastern Mindanao, said boats sailing in the Davao Gulf were being profiled and registered to prevent terrorists from entering the area.

This came after reports that some members of the Maute group who attacked Marawi City last month have begun fleeing to Eastern Mindanao.

Security forces were also mobilized to prevent any “spillover” from Marawi City and protect Eastern Mindanao from terrorists.

Eight supporters and members of the Maute have been arrested by the army and the police, Gapay noted.

Troops take large Abu Sayyaf camp in Basilan

From GMA News  (Jun 18): Troops take large Abu Sayyaf camp in Basilan

The Armed Forces of the Philippines on Sunday said it had captured an Abu Sayyaf camp in Ungkaya Pukan, Basilan, describing it a "highly accomplished mission."

Joint Task Force Basilan commander Col. Juvymax Uy said members of Task Group Hunter led by Lt. Col. Andrew Bacala captured the camp of Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Furuji Indama and Radzmil Janatul on Friday.

Uy said they were able to pinpoint the location of the camp with information provided by Abu Sayyaf members who have recently surrendered.

The ground troops conducted the raid after a series of airstrikes and artillery fires.

Uy said the Abu Sayyaf group suffered heavy casualty, but did not recover any bodies and captured wounded bandits.

Bacala said they saw blood stains around the camp and on a path leading to a small encampment.

Recovered from the camp were two M16 rifles, a Baby armalite rifle, an M1 Garand, four sacks of rice, solar panels, personal items, improvised explosive device components and a document believed to be from a Vietnamese victim.

“The enemy suffered heavy casualties as evident from the massive bloodstains and several identifiable human flesh,” said Bacala.

Also discovered from the camp were 42 makeshift huts.

Meanwhile, Uy said the Joint Task Force Basilan is also conducting civil-military operations to win the support of the locals against the Abu Sayyaf.

Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon is believed to be fighting alongside members of the Maute group and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Marawi City against government troops.

The militants took siege to the city on May 23, prompting President Duterte to place Mindanao under martial law.

The military said 310 people have been killed in the ongoing conflict, including 225 militants, 59 soldiers and 26 civilians.

CPP-NPA political/medical officer nabbed in Surigao City

From the Manila Bulletin (Jun 17): CPP-NPA political/medical officer nabbed in Surigao City

A political and medical officer of the New People’s Army-Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP-NPA) was arrested Thursday afternoon by the joint police and Army forces in Sitio Tumanday ll, Barangay Rizal, Surigao City.

Surigao City Map (Photo courtesy of Google Map)

Surigao City Police Station (SCPS) and Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), said suspect Rovelyn M. Mahinay, alias “Apple”, 28 years old, alleged political officer/instructor of SPP1 Guerilla-Front Committee 30 of the CPP-NPA Northeastern Mindanao Regional Committee (NEMRC), was completely surprised when combined police force and elements of 30th Infantry Battallion (30th IB) arrived at her rented house at 5 p.m. on Thursday in Sitio Tumanday ll, Barangay Rizal, Surigao City.

Operating troops also arrested the live-in partner of Rovelyn, identified only as “Kumander Puma”, a resident of Barangay San Isidro, Tandag City, Surigao del Sur.

The operating troops seized from her one improvised explosive device with blasting cap and detonating cord.

Chief Supt. Felix said the suspect has a pending case of rebellion and frustrated murder in Surigao del Sur court.

He said the suspect is facing rebellion case under Criminal Case (CC) No. C-642 issued by Judge Alfredo P. Jalad of Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 41, Cantilan, Surigao Del Sur dated March 8, 2010 with no bail bond recommended; a frustrated murder case under CC-7018 issued by Judge Edwin Malazarte of RTC Branch 27, Tandag City dated October 7, 2016 with P 200, 000 bail bond recommended and another rebellion case under CC No. 6175 issued by Judge Rufo U. Naragas of RTC-40, Tandag City dated Jan. 14, 2013 with P 100, 000 bail bond recommended.

The suspect was immediately brought to the regional office of the 13thCIDG regional office based here for further tactical investigation before turning her over to Surigao del Sur courts, Chief Supt. Felix said.

“Another case for violation of RA 9516 or the law on illegal/unlawful possession of firearms, ammunition or explosives is being prepared for inquest before the warrants of arrest will be returned to the issuing courts, ” the region’s police chief added.

Meanwhile, Lt. Col. Rico Amaro, commanding officer of the 30th IB said the arrested political officer/instructor is one of the alleged best political officer/instructor operating in Surigao del Sur.

“The arrested suspect was in Surigao City and Surigao del Norte to stabilize the ideological, political and organizational works of the SPP1 Guerilla-Front Committee 30 and also to train medics of the NPA platoons in said areas,” claimed the 30th IB commander, when interviewed by media.

“Parang gusto nilang (CPP-NPA) palakasin ang humihina na nilang samahan… and our operating troops has the legal basis for her arrest,” Col. Amaro said, adding that the arrested suspect has also the right to defend herself in court.

On Tuesday (June 13), another political instructor and recruiter of the NPA Guerilla-Front Committee 21-A of the CPP-NPA-NEMRC voluntarily surrendered to the Army’s 36th Infantry (Valor) Battallion (36th IB) commander Lt. Col. Randolph Rojas in Tago, Surigao del Sur.

The surrendered political instructor and recruiter, identified only as certain “Ka Jumong” was specifically tasked to convince young lumads (natives) in highland communities to join the dwindling NPA group in Surigao del Sur, Col. Rojas said.

“Ka Jumong” will still undergo further investigation in collaboration with the concerned government agencies, so that he could avail of the benefits under the Guns for Peace Program (GPP) and Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP) of the government, the 36th IB commander added.

Duterte eyes absorbing NPA surrenderers into AFP

From Rappler (Jun 17): Duterte eyes absorbing NPA surrenderers into AFP

'If you are concerned that you won't have jobs if you surrender, those NPA who are qualified, I will get you for the Armed Forces,' President Rodrigo Duterte says

COMMANDER IN CHIEF. President Rodrigo Duterte visits the 4th Infantry Division Advance Command Post in Barangay Bancasi, Butuan City, on June 17, 2017. Malacañang photo

COMMANDER IN CHIEF. President Rodrigo Duterte visits the 4th Infantry Division Advance Command Post in Barangay Bancasi, Butuan City, on June 17, 2017. Malacañang photo

President Rodrigo Duterte said he is thinking of absorbing qualified members of the New People's Army (NPA) into the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as long as they surrender to the government.
"If you are concerned that you won't have jobs if you surrender, those NPA who are qualified, I will get you for the Armed Forces," Duterte said in a speech in Bisaya on Saturday, June 17.

"That is my deal for you. If your rank is corporal, your salary will still be corporal. You will be a part of the Armed Forces of the Philippines," he added.

Duterte made these remarks in Cabadbaran, Agusan del Norte, as he made his first public appearance in 5 days.

Duterte also urged Moro rebels: "If you don't have the energy anymore to keep roaming the mountains, come down, put down your arms."

The President further told rebels that if they surrender, he will give them "weapons to fight the enemies of the state."
The Philippine government earlier called off the latest round of peace talks with communist insurgents, after the parties failed to resolve a dispute over a rebel order for fighters to step up attacks.

The communist insurgency in the Philippines is one of the longest-running in the world, and has claimed an estimated 30,000 lives, according to the military.

Peace talks between communist rebels and the government have been conducted on and off for 30 years, and were revived after Duterte, a self-declared socialist, was elected president in 2016.

Gov’t to stop military offensives vs. NPA —Bello

From GMA News (Jun 18): Gov’t to stop military offensives vs. NPA —Bello

Government peace panel chairman and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Sunday said military troops will refrain from conducting combat operations against the New People's Army as a confidence-building measure towards a bilateral ceasefire agreement and the advancement of peace talks.

Bello made the remark after the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) made recommendations to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) to order all NPA units in Mindanao to stop offensives against the Armed Forces and Philippine and the National Police.

He said that the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) "reciprocates with the same declaration of not undertaking offensive operations against the New People’s Army to pave way for the eventual signing of a mutually agreed bilateral ceasefire deal and agreements on social and economic reforms, political and constitutional reforms and end of hostilities and disposition of forces towards a just and lasting peace."

Bello also welcomed NDFP's statement condemning the acts of terrorism by the ISIS-inspired Maute group in Marawi and ordered all Moro Resistance and Liberation Organizations inside the city to assume home defense tasks.

"We welcome the recent statement of the National Democratic Front reaffirming its support to the Philippine government’s fight against Maute, Abu Sayyaf, Ansar al-Khalifah Philippines groups and other terrorist organizations wreaking havoc in Marawi City and other parts of the country," Bello said.

"We also appreciate the NDF’s commitment in their declaration to refrain from undertaking offensive operations in Mindanao to enable the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police to focus their attention on the war against terror groups," he added.

Members of the government peace panel withdrew from the negotiating table during the 5th Round of the peace talks last month due to a directive from the CPP that the NPA intensify its offensive operations amid the martial law declaration in Mindanao.

President Rodrigo Duterte later appealed to the NPA to join the fight against the Maute group in Marawi City.

In response, the NDFP said it will only cooperate if the Duterte administration withdraws its all-out war policy and the martial law declaration in Mindanao.

Nonetheless, Bello said that the recent NDFP statements bodes well for the continuation of the stalled peace talks between the two parties.

"These voluntary gestures and expressions from the NDF in solidarity with government against acts of terrorism augur well for the desired continuation of the stalled 5th round of peace talks as they provide, if sustained, the needed enabling environment favorable to moving the peace negotiations forward," Bello said.

Bello also reaffirmed the GRP's adherence to all previously signed agreements with the Reds, including the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees, which protects NDFP consultants from arrest, detention, and harassment while the peace talks are ongoing.

"The Philippine government hereby unequivocally recommits its adherence to all previously signed agreements, including specifically, but not limited to, the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees," he said.

Soldiers kill 3 NPA rebels in quick battle in Davao Oriental

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jun 17): Soldiers kill 3 NPA rebels in quick battle in Davao Oriental

Three suspected communist rebels were killed in a clash with government troops in Cateel town, Davao Oriental on Saturday, authorities said, hours before a communist official urged the New People’s Army (NPA) to refrain from launching attacks against state security forces.

Senior Supt. Harry Espela, chief of the Davao Oriental Police Provincial Office, said the bodies of unidentified slain NPA rebels were recovered around 7 a.m., more than six hours after the firefight at Sitio 35 in Barangay Taytayan.

Quoting a report from the military, Espela said the fighting happened as troops from the Army’s 67th Infantry Battalion and 104th Division Reconnaissance Company were on combat patrol.

At around 1:45 a.m., they chanced on about 10 communist guerrillas in the area whom they engaged in a 30-minute battle that resulted in the death of three insurgents

During the clearing operations, the soldiers also recovered three assault rifles, a grenade launcher, two improvised explosive devices (IEDs), bomb-making paraphernalia, three cellphones, seven backpacks containing personal belongings, NPA documents, and medical kits, among others.

Earlier, Fidel Agcaoili, chief negotiator for the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, said a recommendation was communicated to the Communist Party of the Philippines directing the NPA to stand down and instead help the government fight against terrorists from the Maute Group, Abu Sayyaf, and Ansar al Khilafa Philippines who had been laying siege to Marawi City.

Agcaoili said the respite of fighting between the communists and the government could help pave the way for a unified effort to crush the jihadists – provided the military and police would also stop operations against communist insurgents.

It was not clear how Saturday’s clash would affect the communists’ offer to cooperate with the government against Islamic State-inspired terrorists.

The NPA in Southern Mindanao was also holding a police officer from Davao Oriental, SPO2 George Rupinta, who was abudcted last June 9 in Barangay Tagugpo, Lupon town.

2 NPA leaders arrested in Surigao

From the Manila Bulletin (Jun 17): 2 NPA leaders arrested in Surigao

A political and medical officer of the New People’s Army-Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP-NPA) was arrested Thursday afternoon by the joint police and military forces in Sitio Tumanday II, Barangay Rizal, Surigao City.

The Surigao City police and Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) said Rovelyn M. Mahinay, alias “Apple,” 28, reportedly the political officer/instructor of SPP1 Guerilla-Front Committee 30 of the CPP-NPA Northeastern Mindanao Regional Committee (NEMRC), was completely surprised when police and military arrived at her rented house at 5 p.m. on Thursday in Sitio Tumanday II, Barangay Rizal, Surigao City.

Likewise arrested was Mahinay’s partner, identified only as “Kumander Puma,” a resident of Barangay San Isidro, Tandag City, Surigao del Sur.

Seized from Mahinay was an improvised explosive device with blasting cap and detonating cord.

Chief Supt. Marcial Felix said the suspect has a pending case of rebellion and frustrated murder in Surigao del Sur court.

The suspect was immediately brought to the regional office of the CIDG regional office based here for further tactical investigation before turning her over to Surigao del Sur courts, Felix said.

“Another case for violation of RA 9516 or the law on illegal/unlawful possession of firearms, ammunition or explosives is being prepared for inquest before the warrants of arrest will be returned to the issuing courts, ” the region’s police chief added.

NPAs attack Iloilo police station

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jun 17): NPAs attack Iloilo police station

New People’s Army supporters, wearing masks of “Kumander Parago,” join a rally in Davao City. —Karlos Manlupig

New People’s Army supporters, wearing masks of “Kumander Parago,” join a rally in Davao City. —Karlos Manlupig

Suspected New People’s Army rebels raided the police station of Maasin town, in Iloilo on Sunday morning.

 Chief Insp Aaron Palomo, public information officer of the Iloilo Provincial Police Office, said they were confirming reports that about 40 armed men attacked the police station in Maasin, 25 kilometers from Iloilo City.

 Provincial board member Emmanuel Gallar who went to the Maasin municipal hall said about 70 heavily armed men raided the station at about 10:30 a.m. and took an undetermined number of firearms and a police patrol car before fleeing.

 This was also confirmed by Maasin Mayor Mariano Malones.

 No casualties were reported.

The rebels reportedly handcuffed five policemen who were unharmed. They also distributed statements to residents explaining the attack before fleeing toward the town of Alimodian, Iloilo.

Hapilon’s escort nabbed in Zamboanga

From the pro-CPP online publication the Davao Today (Jun 17): Hapilon’s escort nabbed in Zamboanga

Government troops on Saturday arrested a member of the Abu Sayyaf Group and a close escort of ASG leader Isnilon Hapilon.

In a statement, the Army said members of the Joint Task Force Zamboanga and the Zamboanga City Police Office arrested Abu Sayyaf member Hamsi Amajad Marani a.k.a Hamsi, at Purok 4, Sitio Niyog-Niyog, Barangay Muti, Zamboanga City at 1:30am Saturday.

The Army said Marani is an ASG bomb expert.

“The subject is a notorious member of the ASG, and is a trained bomber by an Indonesian Jemaah Islamiyah bomb expert,” the Army said.

Authorities recovered improvised explosive device’s making paraphernalia.

Marani was also reportedly involved in series of military encounters against the government forces jn Sulu and Basilan Provinces.

Marani is currently under the custody of the Zamboanga Police Office undergoing debriefing.

Lieutenant General Carlito G Galvez, Jr, Commander of the Western Mindanao Command said the capture of Marani will “somehow cripple any possible support being given by Marani to Hapilon as he struggle to leave Marawi to safety.”

Has an Indian ISIS fighter been killed in the Philippines? Spy agencies suspect a man named Mushtaq died during an attack by government forces

From the Daily Mail (Jun 17): Has an Indian ISIS fighter been killed in the Philippines? Spy agencies suspect a man named Mushtaq died during an attack by government forces

  • Marawi, on the island of Mindanao, has been under siege for weeks
  • 'Mushtaq', who left India to join the terror group, was possibly part of the ISIS group which
  • carried out an assault on the Filipino city
  •  Government forces there have launched an attack on the area

  • In a worrying development, spy agencies suspect that an ISIS terrorist of Indian nationality has died in the Philippines.

    It is believed that he died while fighting for control over the city of Marawi, and officials are currently trying to verify information they have recently received.

    'There are inputs that one person by the name of Mushtaq, who left India to join the terror group was part of the ISIS group which carried out the assault on the Filipino city and we are in the process of verifying the input,' a senior intelligence officer told Mail Today.

    "Smoke rises after aerial bombings by Philippine Air Force planes on Islamist militant positions in Marawi on the southern island of Mindanao on June 14"

    Marawi, on the southern island of Mindanao in the Philippines, has been under siege for weeks, following an invasion by Islamic militants loyal to Abu Sayyaf commander Isnilon Hapilon in May.

    The government forces there have launched an attack on the city.

    But the battle to eradicate hundreds of ISIS-affiliated militants from the local areas has so far failed to make much headway in resolving the conflict.

    "A soldier taking a look at enemy positions, while they try to clear the city of armed militants"

    If confirmed, this would be the first instance of an Indian fighting for the ISIS in South East Asia, which is fast emerging as an attraction for the Islamic terrorists across the region.

    However, the number of Indians who have gone to join ISIS in west Asia is negligible, considering that Muslims share more than 20 per cent of the 1.25-billion population of India, the official said.

    However, he said that spy agencies are worried about isolated youths, who are radicalised over the internet and tend to become 'lone wolves' for targeting security forces or people from other faiths to wage a religious war as per their indoctrination.

    "Smoke billows from the city centre after an air attack by Philippine government troops"

    "Filipino soldiers clearing a city street of militants in Marawi city, southern Philippines. Filipino officials announced on Friday that foreign fighters were among the Islamist militants killed in Marawi city during gun battles between ISIS-linked militants and security troops"

    'We have our eyes on certain suspects, who are getting radicalised and may get into action in future. The numbers may also have increased due to online indoctrination,' the official said.

    There was recently an encounter in Lucknow, where a self-radicalised terrorist, Saifullah, was eliminated by the UP anti-terrorist squad.

    Saifullah and other suspects were linked to a home-grown, self-radicalised group, inspired by ISIS owing allegiance to its elusive leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

    "Filipino soldiers clearing a city street of militants in Marawi city"

    All the six suspects, arrested in UP and MP, were active on social media and were in regular touch with ISIS handlers and might have got together from different places to carry out attacks on Indian agencies after meeting online.

    The official added that a number of terrorists, who have returned from the ISIS war zones in Iraq, Syria and Libya, have come back.

    He added that the reality they encountered there was totally different from what they had imagined while leaving for that country from India.

    "Spy agencies are checking whether an Indian ISIS fighter was among those killed"

    "Filipino soldiers in Marawi city, southern Philippines"

    'The kind of brutality that they came across and the racial discrimination that they had to face from the Arab fighters of the ISIS has been scary and they have been left disenchanted,' the official said.

    The security agencies are keeping a strict vigil on the returnees but have also held deradicalisation camps to draw them from their fanatic mindset.

    The case involving a group of four engineering graduates was one of the first reported cases about Indians joining the ISIS. However, a few of them have returned with the help of Indian authorities.

    Abu Sayyaf bomber captured in Zamboanga City (Photos)

    From the Mindanao Examiner (Jun 17): Abu Sayyaf bomber captured in Zamboanga City

    Military  photos released to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner show suspected Abu Sayyaf bomber Hamsi Marani who is captured in Zamboanga City.

    Military photos released to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner show suspected Abu Sayyaf bomber Hamsi Marani who is captured in Zamboanga City.


    Security forces captured a suspected Abu Sayyaf bomber following a raid before sunrise Saturday in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines, officials said.

    Officials said Hamsi Amajad Marani was captured in the village of Muti after a civilian tipped off the military about his presence.

    Various materials used in the manufacture of improvised explosives were also recovered from Marani, who is believed to be an aide of Abu Sayyaf chieftain Isnilon Hapilon, the Amir of the Islamic State fighters in the Philippines.

    “The subject is a notorious member of the ASG, and is a trained bomber by an Indonesian Jemaah Islamiyah bomb expert. Said Abu was also involved in series of military encounters against the government forces in Sulu and Basilan provinces,” said Army Captain Jo-Ann Petinglay, a spokeswoman for the Western Mindanao Command.

    She said Marani is currently being interrogated by the police. No other details were released by authorities on Marani.

    Maute fighters in Marawi dwindle

    From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 17): Maute fighters in Marawi dwindle

    The number of Maute members fighting the government forces in the strife torn city of Marawi has dwindled as soldiers continue to advance in areas the extremists used to have a strong hold, the military said Saturday.

    According to the Joint Task Force Marawi, the sustained ground and air attack the military launched in the past few days has taken its toll on the Maute Group as more of its fighters were killed.

    Per latest data released by JTF Marawi to the media, there are now about 225 insurgents who were killed either by airstrike’s or by engaging the government troops on the ground, while 208 assorted firearms were confiscated or recovered by the armed forces from the insurgents.

    JTF said 50 military personnel had reported to have been killed in action.

    “Enemy resistance continues to dwindle and enemy held areas continues (sic) to get smaller as troops advance,” the task force said in its update report over the weekend.

    JTF said about 26 civilians had lost their lives as there are still residents who refused to leave their homes, although 1,629 of them had already been rescued by a combined team of military, civil society groups and local government officials.

    Out of 96 barangays in Marawi, the JTF has noted only four villages, especially Bangolo and Marinaut, remained as “problem areas” and where the military has focused its assaults on.

    According to Lieutenant Colonel Jo-Ar Herrera, spokesperson of the Philippine Army’s 1st Infantry Division, soldiers are on “clearing operations” in those four villages after troopers managed to retake some of the strategic points where the enemy snipers used to be positioned and inflict casualties.

    In these areas, the challenge for the advancing soldiers is the Maute Group’s use of civilians as human shields and mosques as the insurgents’ staging areas and safe havens, Herrera said.

    Earlier, the military has assured that they will not attack or destroy the numerous mosques as these are places of worship for the city’s Muslim populace who considered them sacred.

    The JTF said General Eduardo Año, the chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, has reiterated his continuing guidance “to put a premium on civilian lives, respect for civilian properties during clearing operations and complete discipline among our men in uniform conducting military activities in the area.”

    Muslim religious leaders urge Mautes to leave Marawi

    From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 17): Muslim religious leaders urge Mautes to leave Marawi

    The Sultanate and Imams in Lanao urged the Maute terror group to leave Marawi City in the name of peace and humanity.

    The appeal was one of the pleadings in an open letter to President Rodrigo Duterte signed by 22 Sultans and Imams who asked the President to end the armed hostilities in Marawi as soon as possible before the end of the Holy Month of Ramadhan on Monday.

    "All of us condemn the act of terrorism in any form,” the group said in the letter, praying that the crisis would end “without added collateral damage.”

    They also told the President that most of the members of the militant group that wreaked havoc in Marawi City for 24 days now are not Maranaos.

    Supporters from Basilan, Sulu and Zamboanga as well as those from Indonesia, Malaysia, Yemen and India were reportedly joined the Maute terror group in engaging the government troops, the Maranao leaders said.

    Colonel Cerilo Thomas Donato, assistant division commander of the 1st Infantry (Tabak) Division, has clarified over a radio interview that the Armed Forces of Philippines (AFP) as well as the Philippine National Police is not yet giving a go signal for the evacuees to Marawi City.

    “The firefight in Marawi is still going on. So, it is not yet safe for the evacuees to return,” Donato explained.

    Troops arrest Abu member in Zamboanga

    From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 17): Troops arrest Abu member in Zamboanga

    Combined police and military operatives on Saturday, June 17, arrested a suspected member of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and recovered bomb-making materials in this city.

    Arrested was Hamsi Marani, a resident of Barangay Muti, according to Supt. Diomarie Albarico, Zamboanga City Police Office (ZCPO) director.

    Albarico said Marani was incidentally arrested in a law enforcement operation around 1:10 a.m. Saturday in Barangay Muti, this city.

    Albarico said the law enforcement operation through the of service of warrant of arrest was launched against Asbi Ahaddin alias Pogie, who is charged for the crime of attempted murder.

    He disclosed that Ahaddin managed to elude arrest when the troops swooped down his residence in Barangay Muti.

    He said Marani, who was at Ahaddin’s residence, was arrested after the informant of the troops recognized the suspect as a member of the ASG.

    He said the arresting team has also recovered at the residence of Ahaddin a detonating cord and two blasting caps.

    AFP urges public to practice concept of shared security

    From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 17): AFP urges public to practice concept of shared security

    The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) called on the public to practice the concept of shared security as there is a distinct possibility that some Maute Group members have broken through the military cordon in Marawi City by mixing up with evacuee and refugee convoys.

    Through this method, these lawless elements could then strike civilian and military targets in other areas.

    "We do not deny that there could have been possible, possibly a few of these fighters who came from Marawi, who may have mixed with the evacuees and refugees who are leaving Marawi we have caught a number of them but there may have been a few of them to Iligan or Cagayan De Oro," AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said late Friday.

    As of 6 p.m. June 15, the number of Maute Group members neutralized are placed at 225 with government losses at 59 and civilians executed by the terrorists at 26.

    Civilians pulled out or rescued from the danger zone at placed at 1,629 and firearms recovered from the bandits at 208.

    "We have continually called on people to always practice the concept of shared security which meant to say that every Filipino, every citizen in all these areas and for that matter throughout the Philippines should be alert, vigilant and always on the lookout for suspicious persons in their communities as well as packages or stuff that are left here and there that are unattended," he added.

    And if every Filipino would comply with this request of the AFP, Padilla said the country's security posture will be greatly heightened.

    "(This is) one of the most effective and most efficient means of increasing our security posture because you know soldiers and policemen their numbers are limited and we cannot guard every nook and cranny of every city and every place so if every Filipino over a hundred million of them, partners with the security sector and our government, in guarding their own areas then the security posture becomes all the more heightened," he added.

    AFP intensifies its war on terror vs Maute terrorists in Marawi

    From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 17): AFP intensifies its war on terror vs Maute terrorists in Marawi

    The military has two noble missions it must accomplish in its war on terror against the Maute terrorists in Marawi City as fighting entered its 26th day on Saturday.

    One is to preserve the republic by wiping out the terror group, who wanted to establish a caliphate in Marawi .

    Secondly, while the soldiers are busy fighting their other mission is to rescue civilians trapped in the fighting and are being used as human shields by the Islamic militants.

    Brig. Restituto Padilla Jr., spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines said that as of 6 p.m. Friday, 225 terrorists have been killed since fighting erupted on May 23.

    The military suffered 59 killed in action, while 26 civilians were also slain during the same period. So far, the military has rescued 1,629 civilians trapped in buildings in the war-torn city.

    There are still an undetermined number of civilians being held as human shields by the terrorists.

    Government forces have to be extra careful in their offensive because aside from civilians being used as human shields, the terrorists have planted improvised explosive devices (IED) in strategic areas and in buildings occupied by the Maute group.

    Padilla also said that most of the casualties suffered by government forces came from terrorist snipers, who are posted in tall buildings in the city.

    An Australian journalist, identified as Adam Harvey of the Australian Broadcasting Company, who was hit by shrapnel that pierced his neck just after he took off his armored vest and helmet upon reaching the capitol building.

    Harvey was immediately rushed to the city hospital. Harvey was the first journalist who was wounded while covering the fighting in Marawi City.

    Since Day One of the fighting, Philippine Air Force (PAF) planes and helicopter gunships, including the newly acquired F50 jets have been used in surgical airstrikes that killed most of the 225 terrorist casualties.

    Padilla said airstrikes would continue to be used by the AFP to cripple once and for all the remaining Maute terrorists still holed out in four barangays in Marawi.

    Government forces have recaptured 96 per cent of Marawi City since fighting started more than three weeks ago.

    Padilla also said that government troops captured more than 200 high-powered weapons left behind by slain terrorists since fighting erupted more than three weeks ago.

    Padilla said these heartless terrorists using civilians as human shields had prevented government forces from firing their gun for fear the civilians would be killed.

    On Wednesday (June 14), five civilians and five policemen dashed to freedom when they saw an opportunity to escape.

    They sustained bruises in various parts of their bodies during their daring escape.

    Last week, the military arrested Ominta Romato Maute, alias Farhana, mother of terrorist leaders Omar and Abdulla Maute, who is allegedly the financier of the Maute terrorist group.

    Also arrested were Fajad Salic, former mayor of Marawi, and nine others.

    They were intercepted at a checkpoint manned by Philippine Army troopers.

    Rebellion charges have been filed against them The charges were filed after prosecutors found probable cause against the accused for conniving with the Maute group by actively engaging “in an armed rebellion against the government,” according to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II.

    Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana tagged Farhana as the Maute group’s adviser and financier, given her “vast financial resources drawn locally and abroad.”

    Farhana is the first wife of Cayamora Maute, who was arrested at a checkpoint in Davao City on June 6. She was arrested in Masiu, Lanao del Sur, along with two wounded Maute group members, last Friday.

    Aside from Salic and Maute, also charged in court were Sumaya Bangkit Masakal, Radiea Tugosa Asire, Mariam Ibnu Abubakar, Zafeerah Rosales Musa, Nehreen Macaraya Abdul, Nora Moctar Limgas, Mardiyya Haji Ali, Sumayya Lawi Ali and Noronisa Haji Camal.

    All 11 accused are in the list of over 300 individuals identified as members of the Maute group, the Abu Sayyaf group, and their sympathizers earlier ordered arrested by the government for the crime of rebellion.

    Authorities confiscated from Farhana one M14 rifle, seven M14 magazine assembly, 136 M14 live ammunition, one scope, two rifle grenades, two improvised rocket propelled grenades and two smoke grenades.

    On the other hand, seized from Salic four units of M203 grenade, one M16 rifle loaded with 29 pieces of live ammunition and three pieces of long magazine with each loaded with 30 pieces of 5.56 bullets.

    When Maute terrorists lay siege on Marawi City, they waved the black Islamic State flag, and at the same time killed civilians and took hundreds of hostages.

    This prompted President Rodrigo R. Duterte to declare martial law the whole of Mindanao to prevent the terrorists from spreading their deadly tentacles to the region Mindanao.

    Duterte was visiting Russia at the time when Maute terrorists seized Marawi.

    He said that the Maute group wanted to establish an ISIS province in southern Philippines. The military has uncovered a plot that Maute terrorist group was planning to attack the nearby Iligan City after Marawi.

    Military Ordinariate Tumulak passes away

    From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 17): Military Ordinariate Tumulak passes away

    The Military Ordinariate of the Philippines Bishop Leopoldo Tumulak passed away on Saturday afternoon at the age of 72.

    In an article posted on the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) news website, the Catholic prelate died at around 1:26 p.m, June 17 at the Cardinal Santos Hospital in San Juan City where he was rushed Friday night.

    Tumulak, who had led the diocese since 2005, was in and out of the hospital. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer early this year.

    As military ordinary, he served as ecclesiastical pastor of the jurisdiction serving all military and police personnel, their dependents and civilian employees.

    The Catholic bishop was also the chairman of the CBCP-Episcopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care (ECPPC).

    A native of Santander town in Cebu province, Tumulak was ordained priest in March 1971.

    In January 1987, he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Cebu which he served for five years. In 1992, Tumulak was named the bishop of Tagbilaran.

    The Military Ordinariate has at least 130 priests, 126 of whom are diocesan clergy, while four are religious.

    On the other hand, CBCP-ECPPC Executive Secretary Rodolfo Diamante expressed sadness over the passing away of their leader.

    "It is a sad day for the jail and prison ministry because we lost not only a chair in our commission but one who truly is a father to us all. Bp. Leo has reflected the image of a compassionate God who really cares about his people," he said.

    Diamante added, "Up to his last minute he wanted to spend hid remaining days with his flock and spent quality time with them. His life of service will be etched in our hearts. We will never forget him."

    MILF: Sultanate Of Buayan Darussalaam Supports The BBL Without Pre-condition

    Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Jun 17): Sultanate Of Buayan Darussalaam Supports The BBL Without Pre-condition

    “We deeply expressed our collective commitment and full support to the new BBL and the current peace process without pre-condition to attain the main objectives of the Bangsamoro.”  This was emphasized by Judge Datucaca Camsa, Secretary General of Sultanate of Buayan Darussalam during a Dialogue-Consultation with BTC Chairman Ghazali Jaafar recently held at Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.
    Through power presentation, Prof. Raby Angkal, BTC Chief of Staff presented briefly the main objectives of the dialogue-consultation with the Sultanate leaders. He explained the rationale: Why there is a need to help and push the BBL. We should strive hard and must be united to work for one common objective, to leveling off on the Bangsamoro History and the current issues to stop the sufferings of the Bangsamoro. That’s why we need to support the implementation of CAB, the negotiated political settlement of the Bangsamoro issue in Mindanao.

    “Let’s hold on to the rope of ALLAH all together and do not separate”, Angkal stressed.

    “The Sultanate of Buayan Darussalam declared full support to the expanded BTC and the BBL. “Even before the signing of Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB), we started making our initiatives on how to support the Bangsamoro struggle. We have a lot of position papers submitted not only to the MILF and OPAPP but also to some foreign dignitaries invited by the MILF. The Sultanate of Buayan Darussalam position paper is BBL first ahead of federalism. The same position paper will be submitted to the GPH panel to push the BBL ahead of federalism”, Judge Camsa said.

    Datucaca further stressed that it doesn’t matter to us whoever is installed in position after the BBL is ratified. It’s not the sultanate personality, but what is important to us but to achieve the main objective of the Bangsamoro in general”, Judge Camsa stressed.

    BTC Chairman Ghazali Jaafar acknowledged with pleasant message the the prime Sultanate and other royal houses members who attended the very significant occasion. Let us be thankful to Allahu s.w.t. for having this opportunity to talk to you personally and discuss our main objectives.

    “The Bangsamoro was the oldest nation in the world history. In fact, the sultanates form of government started in 14th century, whereas the US government started in 17th century. Even before the arrival of the Spaniards in 1521, the Sultanate has already established its government for about 200 years. That’s the reasons why the Spanish colonial government has never succeeded in conquering the Bangsamoro in their more than 200 years of resistance without let up. So, their bravery coupled with collective leadership of the Sultanate demonstrated the best mechanism in fighting against the Spanish super power that never succeeded”, Jaafar narrated.

    Jaafar reiterated the importance of dialogue and consultation that could resolve even the contentious issues.

    About 19 Sultans of Sultanate of Buayan Darussalam and the Royale Houses members led by Prime Sultan Amil Husain Camsa were very thankful to the BTC Chairman Jaafar and members of the Commission for giving them time to share their ideas in the dialogue-consultation organized by the BTC Task Force on Sultanate chaired by Sultan Sanny Pinagayao of Sultan sa Linantangan.

    Prof. Candidadtu Kalipa, Datu a Lukes of Sultanate of a Buayan sa Buayan facilitated the very successful dialogue-consultation between the the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) and the Sultanate of Buayan.

    Sultan Bungguan P. Akmad, Sultanate of Madanding has recommended to the BTC Chairman Jaafar to facilitate a unification program for all the Sultanates in Central Mindanao. It is very important to have unity and reconciliation of all the Bangsamoro traditional leaders, Sultan sa Madanding said.

    The BTC Chair wholeheartedly accepted the proposal.

    MILF: BTC Invites, Enlightens Christian Leaders On BBL

    Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Jun 16): BTC Invites, Enlightens Christian Leaders On BBL

    The Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) invited non-Muslim sectoral leaders in Cotabato City, Tacurong City, Kidapawan City and adjacent municipalities of North Cotabato in a dialogue to listen to their opinions and clarifications on the proposed new BBL.
    Pete Marquez, Chairmen of the BTC Task Force on non-Muslim leaders organized the said consultation.

    We appreciated very much this public consultation held for the first time to directly listen from the mouth of the participants of their fears, aspirations and concerns, said Pete Marquez, a former president of Metro Kutawato Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

    BTC Chairman Ghazali Jaafar and other commissioners formally met the group in an en banc consultation to clarify some contentious issues in the proposed BBL and the ministerial form of government for Bangsamoro held recently at Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.

    Though the commissioners were not in quorum the BTC Chairman Jaafar pursued the dialogue-consultation due to its significance.

    Sr. Linda C. Misug, (OND) Oblates of Notre Dame asked: How will the Shari’a Justice System applied in the proposed BBL? Commissioner Atty. Firdausi Abbas cited PD 1083, otherwise known as Muslim Filipino Personal Laws in the Philippines where Shari’a justice system is focused only on civil case.

    Whereas in the proposed BBL it included criminal case (not a capital punishment) applied only to Muslims. Unless, the non- Muslim male or female are married to Muslims and embraced Islam before their marriage and solemnized in accordance with the Muslim rites, then Shari’a Law can be applied to them.

    Comm. Maisara Latiph elaborated further that Shari’a Justice System would never suppress the religious rights of non-Muslim. Notre Dame School will never be affected in the proposed BBL.

    BTC Chairman Jaafar assured them that Freedom of Expression will never be suppressed in the proposed Bangsamoro government. The Bangsamoro ministerial form of government is a democratic and not an Islamic government, Jaafar stressed.

    Pastor Troy Cordero raised clarifications on the fears and apprehensions of non-Muslim sectors that once the Bangsamoro government is established, their Basic Rights, their religious practices, drinking liquor, celebrating birthdays and other forms of Christian traditional practices will be suppressed, and on the alleged issue that all real properties of non-Muslims like lands, houses, and vehicles are shall be confiscated from therm.

    “There’s no truth on this issue. That’s why we invited you here to have a dialogue and consultation to enlighten you on the non-sense issues and perceptions or speculations circulated by irresponsible person who know nothing about the BBL and the noblest objectives of the Bangsamoro,” BTC Chairman Jaafar explained.

    What we need is your utmost support and cooperation to attain a dignified and lasting peace in Mindanao.

    The Oblates of Notre Dame leaders clarified the mandates of the educational system in the proposed BBL if there’s an assurance of support to the current private institution like the Notre Dame Schools.

    Commissioner Dr. Susana Anayatin cited some provisions of the proposed BBL that ensures the protection of educational system of the current private institutions existing in the Bangsamoro. There are some sections added to the provisions of HB 4994 which strengthens further the educational system in the proposed new BBL.

    NDF: NDFP reiterates declaration opposing and fighting terrorism

    Propaganda statement posted to the National Democratic Front Website (Jun 17): NDFP reiterates declaration opposing and fighting terrorism  

    We, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), reiterate our previous declaration that we stand firmly with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) in opposing and fighting terrorism, terrorist groups and acts of terrorism.

    As a matter of fundamental principle and constant policy, we condemn and combat terrorism. By terrorism, we mean actions that intimidate, terrorize, harm and murder civilians solely or mainly and in violation of human rights and international humanitarian law.

    We condemn and are resolved and determined to counteract the Maute, Abu Sayyaf and Ansar Al Khilafah Philippines (AKP) groups which are wreaking havoc in Marawi City. These are terrorist groups linked to local reactionary forces, affiliated with ISIS and supported by US-CIA and other foreign entities.

    The level of counteraction against terrorism, as well as the nature, scope and duration must be appropriate and proportional to the degree of danger, threat and/or harm and mayhem being committed by the terrorist groups concerned in Marawi City. Upon the success of the counter-terrorist measures, these must cease in order to allow normalcy and full respect for human rights as soon as possible.

    The NDFP has already instructed the Moro Resistance and Liberation Organization (MRLO) inside Marawi City to assume home defense tasks against the Maute, Abu Sayyaf and AKP groups. The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) has also directed units of the New People’s Army (NPA) close to Marawi City to redeploy for the purpose of mopping up, holding and blocking operations, if necessary.

    The NDFP is ready to discuss and agree in detail with the GRP on how ceasefire, coordination and cooperation can be achieved in Marawi City by both forces unilaterally keeping safe distances between each other.

    For all forces to be able to concentrate against Maute, Abu Sayyaf and AKP groups, the NDFP has recommended to the CPP to order all other NPA units in Mindanao to refrain from carrying out offensive operations against the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP), provided that the GRP order the AFP and PNP likewise to refrain from carrying out offensive operations against the NPA and people’s militia. The rights and interests of the masses and communities must be respected and promoted.

    The NDFP continues to adhere to the mutually acceptable principles of national sovereignty, democracy and social justice, as laid down in The Hague Joint Declaration.

    The NDFP is thankful to the Royal Norwegian Government (RNG) for diligently performing its third party role as facilitator. ####

    Authenticated by:
    Fidel V. Agcaoili
    Chairperson, NDFP Negotiating Panel
    Contact No. +31 30 2310431

    Interfaith mission sees looming humanitarian crisis as battle in Marawi continues

    From the often pro-CPP online publication the Davao Today (Jun 17): Interfaith mission sees looming humanitarian crisis as battle in Marawi continues

    MISERABLE. E​vacuees at the gymnasium in Saguiran town, Lanao del Sur. (Alex D. Lopez/

    A looming humanitarian crisis is feared as the air and ground military offensives by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) against the ISIS-linked Maute Group and Abu Sayyaf continue in Marawi.

    The continued military offensives continue to displaced families and individuals continue to shelter temporarily in registered and unregistered evacuation centers.

    Leaders and members to the three-day National Interfaith Humanitarian Mission presented the findings of their mission in a press conference at the MSU-IIT here on Friday, June 16.
    The mission that ran from June 13 to 15 visited the displaced families and individuals in Iligan City and in the towns of Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte.

    “We see the looming humanitarian crisis as the military operations continue in Marawi while the government failed to adequately respond to the needs of the displaced persons,” said Teddy Casiño of Alyansang Makabayan who presented the summary of the findings.

    He said that the mission also found out the overwhelming sentiments of displaced families and individuals against aerial bombings in Marawi and the declaration of martial law.

    Activities in the evacuation sites include health services, documentation of human rights abuses and psycho-social sessions for children and women.

    HR situation

    HR SITUATION. Fr, Christopher Ablon, secretary-general of Karapatan in Northern Mindanao presents​ the result of the investigation on the human rights situation of the evacuees from Marawi​. ​(Alex D. Lopez/

    In his report during the press conference, Fr. Christopher Ablon, secretary-general of human rights group Karapatan in Northern Mindanao said the majority of the violations they documented during the mission include aerial bombardments, massive forcible evacuations, encampment, destruction, and divestment of properties.
    The cases were reported by residents from Marawi who are now staying in evacuation centers and to the families in nearby towns and provinces.

    Ablon said that some Marawi residents testified that bombings in the city already started by the afternoon of May 23 and forced them to leave the area.

    “As the firefight and bombings escalate in the following days, many residents have also decided to abandon their houses and seek refuge in evacuation centers and their relatives,” he added.

    The report of the mission also took note of the destruction of structures and houses in Marawi due to the continued bombardments launched by the AFP.
    “Some have seen their houses being bombed by fighter planes and some have seen photos of their destroyed houses in social media and other online news,” Ablon said.

    He also told of the account of residents seeing their properties such motorcycles, bed frames and refrigerators inside military trucks.

    “Other personal effects such as pieces of jewelry and cash discovered missing after their houses were ransacked,” Ablon added.

    The mission also documented of local residents, especially men who were wearing black being tagged as terrorists and members of Maute Group while soldiers were also found camping inside houses and mosques.
    “On June 5, three stray bullets hit the walls of Bubong evacuation center in Barangay Bubong where almost 300 families have evacuated,” he said.

    Effects of bombardments, martial law to evacuees

    The mission also asked the evacuees on their views on martial law and its effects to their situation while forced to shelter in evacuation centers, including the bombardments that the AFP staged in Marawi.

    Evacuees who responded to interviews told of the ruins in Marawi, especially the buildings and houses brought about by massive airstrikes and bombardments.

    “Many have lost their properties and livelihoods. Among those that were also affected are individuals that do not reside in Marawi but were working there. Since martial law broke, they have since been unemployed,” Ablon said in the report.

    IN SESSION. Children inside the evacuation center in Saguiran join a psycho-social activity t​o cushion the impact of trauma during Marawi siege. (Alex D. Lopez/

    The report added: “Overwhelming majority of the respondents interviewed expressed that they did not agree to the imposition of martial law in Marawi and the aerial bombardments conducted by the AFP. Some said that authorities could have pursued the Maute Group without declaring martial law. More so, the bombings are unwarranted and had practically wrecked Marawi.”
    Residents also called for the end of bombardments and to stop the imposition of martial law, the report said.

    They also wanted the government to start the reconstruction of Marawi and provide livelihood to the displaced residents, the report added.

    Difficult health situation

    Grace Celis of the Community Based Health Services also presented the findings of the health investigations conducted by the humanitarian mission and reported of the lamentable health conditions of displaced individuals, especially the women and children in the recognized and unrecognized evacuation centers.

    The health team of the mission was composed of seven doctors, five nurses, one midwife, 10 health workers and more than 20 volunteers.

    The group visited the areas of home based evacuation center in Toril compound in Barangay Obaldo Laya in Iligan City and the registered evacuation center at the gymnasium in the town of Baloi.

    A total of 343 patients were treated by the mission, 128 were males while 215 were females. A total of 112 children (0 to 14 years old) and 231 adults (15 years and above) were given health services by the mission.

    Common disease found among the evacuees include upper respiratory tract infection, skin diseases, pulmonary tuberculosis (suspected and active), acute gastroenteritis, peptic ulcer disease/dyspepsia, muscuskeletal pain, hypertension, headache, pneumonia, gyne cases and pregnancy.

    “Sanitation situation is reflected by the top 10 diseases and lack of potable water source and infrastructure that is not suitable,” Celis said.

    She also took note of the lack of active health education while at the evacuation center, to include cleanliness campaign especially washing and absence of hygiene kit.

    The mission also observed the lack of family planning counseling, maternal and child services and mental health services.

    The doctors who volunteered during the mission also found the poor quality of health services in evacuation centers with no medicines available while health personnel is not pro-active in their services.

    Psychological interventions

    WAR AFFECTING CHILDREN. Gabriela Women’s party-list Representative Arlene Brosas shows​ the ​written wish of one of the children evacuees in Sagui​a​ran town. The child, she said, wishes for an end to the war and go back to their home in Marawi. (Alex D. Lopez/

    Rep. Arlene Brosas of Gabriela Women’s party-list provided the report of the psycho-social interventions conducted by the mission to the children and women in evacuation centers.

    Brosas said a total of 300 children with ages ranging from 2 to 16 years old in three evacuation centers were given psycho-social interventions by the mission within the period of two days.

    “This is the first psycho-social intervention conducted in three evacuation centers three weeks since the Marawi siege broke out,” Brosas pointed out.

    She said the activities provided the children in evacuation centers the venue to share and express their traumatic experiences and allow them to express their feelings and opinions on such experiences.

    “We also assessed the impact of the airstrikes to the children and documented specific children’s rights violated,” she added.

    The activities also determined the existing conditions of the children and identified their immediate needs.

    Most of the children who joined the psycho-social sessions experienced trauma as a result of bombardments and on their experiences while leaving their abodes in Marawi.

    Sleepwalking, the mission found out, were experienced by some children that manifest of their traumatic experiences because of war.

    Through the activities, the children also expressed their longings while at the evacuation center.

    Most of them wrote of the end to war so that they could go back to their homes and schools, the report added.

    Women and mothers were also part of the psycho-social activities and were interviewed about their experiences during the siege.

    Brosas highlighted the fear of women and mothers in evacuation center on the rape joke that President Rodrigo Duterte once said in public.

    “Mothers who were interviewed at evacuation sites said they are always reminded of said joke and they now fear for the safety of their daughters from violence,” she said.

    She also took note of the accounts of some residents of the strategies the military used to force families to leave Marawi, and that is to rape women who would refuse to evacuate.

    Livelihood and sources of income of women and mothers were also lost due to the war in Marawi, the report added.

    Some, Brosas added, are now apprehensive of what future await for them since they already lost everything in Marawi.

    “Wala na silang mauuwian,” she pointed out.

    Brosas added that in a crisis situation, women become vulnerable to other forms of human rights abuses such as human trafficking, illegal recruitment, and sexual violence.

    Mission calls

    END AIR RAIDS. Leaders of the recently-concluded National Interfaith Humanitarian Mission call ​on an end ​to airstrikes in Marawi after they presented the result of their mission in a press conference held at MSU-IIT in Iligan City on Friday, June 16. (Alex D. Lopez/

    Based on their findings, the mission came out with calls to the government to help Marawi and its people rebuild their homes and communities.

    The first recommendation if to generate more relief aids and other forms of assistance to the victims of Marawi siege and that the AFP should ensure that all help reaches the evacuees. Cruel, discriminatory and malicious efforts to prevent such aid from reaching its intended beneficiaries should not be tolerated, the group added.

    Second, the mission called for the improvement of the facilities in the evacuation areas, and that both the national and local governments should respond swiftly to the needs of the evacuees, most of whom are suffering and desperate.

    Thirdly is the formulation of a comprehensive rehabilitation plan that will provide sustainable livelihood and development opportunities for the people and eventually rebuild Marawi.

    The mission, in its fourth call, urged the government to stop the aerial bombardment of Marawi and nearby areas and the lifting of the martial law as soon as possible.

    They also asked the Congress to conduct a deep investigation and form an independent fact-finding body on the circumstances that led to the great humanitarian crisis in the Islamic City of Marawi.

    The group said they will present their findings and recommendations to the concerned agencies and offices of the government.

    Continued engagements and dialogues

    The AFP through the Joint Task Force Marawi overseeing the whole operations in the area clarified that aside from military actions, they are also engaged in dialogues with the local government unit and other local leaders in preparation for rebuilding and rehabilitation phase of Marawi.

    Lt. Col. Jo-Ar Herrera, spokesperson of JTF Marawi told reporters on Thursday that rebuilding and rehabilitation is one of the top priorities that will be undertaken in Marawi to allow civilians to go back to their homes and communities.

    Herrera also dispelled reports on human rights violations saying that AFP chief of staff General Eduardo Año constantly reiterated his continuing guidance to ground forces to put premium on civilian lives, respect for civilian properties.

    These must be observed, he added, during the conduct of military activities and clearing operations in Marawi.

    Government forces also took part in the conduct of rescue of civilians trapped in the continuing firefight against the Maute Group.

    As of 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 15, Herrera said 1,629 civilians were already rescued by government troopers with the support of the local government unit and civil society organizations.

    He also told reporters on Thursday that all relief goods and aids are welcome.

    He also clarified that relief goods and aids must be turned over to a command center in Iligan City that was set up three days after the Marawi siege.

    The center, he added, facilitates the distribution of relief goods and aids to various evacuation centers in the area.

    In their earlier statements, the AFP also denied the reported lootings perpetrated by their men.

    The AFP cited the recovery of P52.2 million cash and P27 million worth of checks recovered by government forces during operations in Marawi that were properly turned over to proper authorities.

    The turnover of the millions of cash and checks, the AFP said, disproved the accusations of troopers involved in looting, the AFP said.

    The government, particularly the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao also reported of its continuing relief operations to the evacuees in different evacuation centers.

    The Humanitarian Emergency Action Response Team said 3,687 families or 17,647 individuals in evacuation centers and 47,677 families or 233,200 individuals considered as house-based evacuees were already served as of 5:00 p.m. on June 15.

    As of the same date, a total of 5,284 individuals were already provided with medical services, the ARMM-HEART data added.

    Bodies scattered on Marawi streets

    From the Daily Tribune (Jun17): Bodies scattered on Marawi streets


    As the military claimed yesterday that the Islamic State (IS)-inspired groups were cornered in four barangays and state forces approach its goal of purging Marawi City of terrorists, more grim results of the three-week old battle emerged as residents fleeing the besieged city reported seeing dead bodies scattered on the streets.

    “Dead bodies, at least 100, scattered around the encounter area,” provincial crisis management committee spokesman Zia Alonto Adiong said.Adiong referred to accounts he had received from fleeing residents. The army has said 290 people have been killed in the more than three weeks of fighting, including 206 militants, 58 soldiers and 26 civilians.

    The Department of Justice (DoJ)  also filed charges yesterday against Ominta Romato “Farhana” Maute, the mother of the Maute terrorist group’s leaders Omar and Abdullah, and 10 others for rebellion in the Marawi terror attacks.

    The DoJ filed charges of rebellion, a non-bailable offense, before the Cagayan De Oro City Regional Trial Court (RTC) against Farhana, former Marawi City Mayor Fahad Salic and nine others in connection to the ongoing armed conflict in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur.

    The criminal charges were filed after government prosecutors found probable cause to accuse the respondents of rebellion after they underwent inquest proceedings at Camp Evangelista, headquarters of the Philippine Army 4th Infantry Division, in Cagayan De Oro City.

    Another member of the Maute clan, who was tagged as a bomb-maker, was arrested by combined police and military operatives in Cagayan de Oro City yesterday.

    Nabbed was Mohammad Noiam Maute, alias Abu Jadid, a maker of improvised explosive device (IED) and a cousin of Omar and Abdullah.

    Jadid, 22, was captured by elements of the Martial law Special Action Group during an operation in Sitio Sta. Cruz, Barangay Macasandig in Cagayande Oro City at around 6:30 a.m.

    He is included in the Arrest Order 1 issued by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, as martial law administrator in Mindanao, against those involved in the ongoing Marawi City siege.

    Lieutenant Colonel Jo-Ar Herrera, a military spokesman, said troops were advancing toward the commercial center of Marawi City, which is held by the militants who have sworn IS allegiance.

    Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said remnants of the terrorist groups were now limited to four Marawi City barangays.

    “Our troops are moving progressively into the interiors of enemy-held areas and this is confined to four barangays, out of 96 barangays in the City of Marawi, four remain to be problematic but of the four not all of these barangays are in their hands, only portions,” Padilla stressed.

    He added that military units are significantly making headway into the inner areas of these barangays where they continue to hide.

    Padilla said the presence of buildings that are resistant to military firepower poses problem for troops conducting mopping up operations.

    “Hence there are times that we need to effect and use heavier ordnance to neutralize targets where particular vantage points are becoming a dangerous approach for our troops,” Padilla said.

    “We intend to finish the fight as soon as possible. Our tactical commanders are doing their best,” Herrera said.

    Hundreds still trapped

    Hundreds of civilians remained pinned down in pockets of Marawi that are controlled by the militants, and they are facing an onslaught of deadly threats including bombs, sniper fire, hunger and a lack of medical care.

    Some have made a two-kilometer sprint to safety during the three weeks of conflict, risking being shot at by the militants.

    The fighting began on May 23 when hundreds of militants rampaged through Marawi, the most important Muslim city in the mainly Catholic Philippines, waving the black flags of IS group.

    The bandits have since withstood a relentless, US-backed bombing campaign and intense ground battles with Filipino troops that have left large parts of Marawi resembling devastated cities in war-torn Syria and Iraq.

    One of the keys to their survival has been the trapped civilians, who are acting as human shields in stopping the military from completely destroying the small areas controlled by the gunmen.

    Even so, entire streets are now just full of rubble and the military’s bombs have not always hit their targets — with one strike going astray and killing 10 soldiers.

    Most of the city’s 200,000 residents fled during the early stages of the fighting. Authorities say anywhere between 300 and 1,700 civilians remain trapped in the militant-held areas.

    Twenty-six civilians have been confirmed killed in the fighting but local officials and aid workers believe dozens more have likely died, with their corpses rotting in the militant-held areas, and that conditions are growing increasingly dire as food runs out.

    “Some residents are eating (cardboard) boxes. They just dip it in water to soften the material and eat it,” Adiong told AFP, recounting testimonies from people who escaped.

    “It’s heartbreaking. It’s almost unbelievable to think that people are living this way.”

    The military has also reported that the militants are using some civilians as slaves, making them cook and carry munitions.

    One survivor who escaped on Tuesday, Christian housepainter Nick Andeleg, 26, said he and his colleagues decided to flee after coming to the realisation that waiting any longer would certainly lead to death.

    “We thought we were the only ones left trapped. We felt it was better to try escaping. If we died outside our house, at least we tried to save ourselves,” Andeleg told AFP as he recounted watching bombs destroy houses around him.

    “We hid anywhere we could. We’d go under all kinds of furniture: beds, cabinets, in the toilet. We were like rats hiding under anything we could find.”

    Camalia Baunto, who has left her six children with her in-laws outside of Marawi, said she was determined to wait for her husband.

    She appeared tormented by the wait though, mumbling to herself while sitting alone sometimes, and asking unanswerable questions to others at the government building.

    “When is this crisis going to end? When will this chaos be over?”  

    11 faces rebellion raps

    Aside from Farhana and Salic, also charged in court are Sumaya Bangkit Masakal, Radiea Tugosa Asire, Mariam Ibnu Abubakar, Zafeerah Rosales Musa, Nehreen Macaraya Abdul, Nora Moctar Limgas, Mardiyya Haji Ali, Sumayya Lawi Ali and Noronisa Haji Camal.

    Authorities apprehended Farhana and nine others last Friday in Masiu, Lanao Del Sur.

    They were caught in possession of one M14 rifle, seven M14 magazine assembly, 136 M14 live ammunition, one scope, two rifle grenades, two improvised rocket propelled grenades and two smoke grenades.

    Moreover, authorities arrested Salic last Friday in Misamis Oriental. He was included in the Department of National Defense’s (DND) arrest order number two.

    Authorities confiscated from Salic four units of M203 grenade, one M16 rifle loaded with 29 pieces of live ammunition and three pieces of long magazine with each loaded with 30 pieces of 5.56 live ammunition.

    Farhana is suspected to be the Maute group’s financier, while Salic’s name appeared in the checks confiscated in one of the terrorist group’s hideout. The nine others were among those arrested with Farhana.

    All 11 accused were included in the list of over 300 individuals identified as members of the Maute group, the Abu Sayyaf group, and their sympathizers earlier ordered arrested by the government for the crime of rebellion.

    Meanwhile, clan patriarch Cayamora Maute was arrested last June 6 at a checkpoint in Davao City along with two other Maute members.

    They were charged for rebellion before the Davao City RTC before being brought to Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City for detention.

    About 200 individuals, mostly members of the IS-inspired Maute group, were ordered arrested by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana in connection to the siege that started last May 23.

    Supt. Lemuel Gonda, spokesman of Police Regional Office-10 (PRO-10) said that Jadid was subsequently placed under the custody of Police Station 9 of Cagayan de Oro City police in Barangay Macasandig for proper disposition.

    Several other members of the Maute clan had been arrested earlier, led by the family’s patriarch Cayamora Maute, who was nabbed along a checkpoint in Davao City, and Farhana, who was captured in Masiu, Lanao del Sur.

    As of yesterday, the IS-inspired terrorists continued to put up resistance against advancing government security forces in Marawi City.

    Reports said that firefight erupted anew in some parts of Marawi City where the terrorists are believed holed up.

    The military reportedly started the day yesterday by conducting air strike against identified enemy lairs.

    Financial aid underway

    Financial aid for the victims of the continuing terror siege in Marawi City is underway.

    The Department of Justice’s (DoJ) Board of Claims has started processing the applications of financial assistance after Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II and Undersecretary Reynante Orceo visited the victims.

    “The state, through the Board of Claims, can show its genuine concern for the victims and impart to them that the government is not indifferent to their plight. The team will provide proper venue where eligible claimants can seek compensation through administrative procedure,” read the two-page DoJ order.

    “Armed conflict continues in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur. Mass evacuations ensued and unfortunately, uniformed personnel from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police as well as civilians died, suffered serious injuries, or needed medical attentions at various hospitals in Iligan, Cagayan de Oro and others,” read the order.

    The order was issued “to process and determine entitlement for compensation for victims of violence perpetrated by Maute-ISIS in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur.”

    In the order, the board may approve and award claimants the maximum amount of P10,000.

    The claimants, through the aid, can seek reimbursement for expenses incurred for hospitalization, medical treatment, loss of wage, loss of support or other expenses directly related to the injury, whichever is lower.

    The processing of applications is pursuant to Republic Act 7309, or “an act creating a Board of Claims under the DoJ for victims of unjust imprisonment or detention and victims of violent crimes for other purposes.”

    But the Board of Claims maintained “this is without prejudice to the right of the claimant to seek other remedies under existing laws.”

    In related developments, Aguirre said he is looking into the possible financial assistance to be granted for fallen and wounded soldiers in the Marawi siege.

    Aguirre, after visiting injured soldiers at Camp Evangelista Army Hospital in Cagayan De Oro City, tasked Orceo, who heads the Board of Claims, to determine the processing financial assistance for the soldiers and of their families.

    The Justice chief also gave P50,000 from his personal funds to the Directress of the Camp Evangelista Station Hospital for the needs of the wounded and recuperating soldiers.

    “We cannot thank our soldiers enough for their bravery and gallant acts in the defense of our people in Marawi City. This is least we can do for them,” Aguirre said.

    Stray bullet hits Aussie correspondent

    The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) yesterday blamed a stray bullet from a sniper that hit an Australian broadcast journalist covering the ongoing Marawi City crisis.

    Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr., AFP spokesman, said that Adam Harvey, of the Australian Broadcasting Company, was hit while inside the provincial capitol.

    “Suffice to say and thank God he is out of danger and it’s not life threatening. He was just grazed by a stray bullet coming from the other side of the capitol where the area is still a battle field,” said Padilla.

    Padilla said that Adam was immediately attended to by medical workers and was subsequently discharged from a clinic.

    “What we gathered is in the course of the fight at the other side of the capitol, there have been a sniper bullet that may strayed in the area and accidentally hit the journalist,” he said.

    “Thanks everyone - I’m okay. Bullet is still in my neck, but it missed everything important,” he said in a Twitter post.

    Malacañang yesterday advised journalists covering the crisis in Marawi City to be very careful.

    “While I understand that you would not shirk your duty in the pursuit of any story, bear in mind that there’s no story more valuable than one’s life,” Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a statement.

    “Take the necessary precautions and stay safe while covering conflicts,” he added.

    Nonetheless, Abella lauded the dedication done by members of the press at the frontlines of the conflict.

    “We call on the media courageously covering the situation in Marawi to remain true to your profession in delivering timely, accurate and relevant news to our people,” he said. “After all, part of any journalist’s sacred calling is to bear witness to the truth,” he said.

    National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) executive director and Office of Civil Defense (OCD) chief Ricardo Jalad confirmed that as of June 14, the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Lanao del Sur has reached 324,406 or 66,738 families.