Saturday, July 8, 2017

DND: Captured female NPA member a relative of Lorenzana's wife

From GMA News (Jul 9): DND: Captured female NPA member a relative of Lorenzana's wife

The Department of National Defense (DND) on Sunday said the female New People's Army (NPA) member wounded and arrested after a firefight in Abra last week is a distant relative of Secretary Delfin Lorenzana's wife.

Arsenio Andolong, DND public affairs chief, said there have been reports that arrested NPA member Adriel Dawn Aguilar Aquino was a relative of the Defense chief.

"Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana is not related to arrested NPA amazon Adriel Dawn Aguilar Aquino, contrary to what was intimated in some news reports," Andolong said.

He added: "She is a distant relative of the Secretary's wife and this has no relevance to Ms. Aquino's arrest by proper authorities."

Andolong said that according to Lorenzana, Aquino must be treated as a regular NPA member who had been arrested by the authorities despite her relations to the secretary's wife.

Aquino was arrested by members of the Army's 24th Infantry Battalion after a firefight with a 30-member NPA group in Barangay Kiilong-olao last July 1.

Troops recovered from Aquino's group six high-powered firearms and subversive documents.

The dangerous implications of ISIS holding on to Marawi in the Philipines

From the Jerusalem Post (Jul 8): The dangerous implications of ISIS holding on to Marawi in the Philipines

Islamist extremists in Philippines network with jihadists globally and Jerusalem should pay close attention to the month-long siege.
Philippines army soldiers store seized combat weapons in bags.

Philippines army soldiers store seized combat weapons in bags as government troops continue their assault against insurgents in Marawi city, Philippines July 4, 2017. . (photo credit:REUTERS/JORGE SILVA)

On Wednesday, Philippine soldiers found the beheaded bodies of two Vietnamese sailors who had been kidnapped eight months ago by the Abu Sayyaf group. The bodies were found on Basilan Island, about 240 kilometers from Marawi City where an ISIS-affiliated group has been fighting a battle with the Philippine Army for a month and a half.

Basilan Island and its Sulu archipelago is part of the Muslim- majority Mindanao province of southern Philippines. It is only 320 kilometers from Indonesia and Malaysian provinces on Borneo.
The ability of ISIS to put down roots through affiliates in Asia is of special importance as it loses ground in Mosul and Raqqa. What happens in the Philippines has ramifications for Islamist threats throughout the world.

The 1995 Bojinka plot to blow up 11 airliners was masterminded by Ramzi Yousef and Khalid Sheikh Muhammad in Manila. Both men had a web of connections in Malaysia, Pakistan and the United States that connected them to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and eventually to the 9/11 attacks. Abu Sayyaf’s murderous campaign against foreigners and other targets in the Philippines and Malaysia began in earnest in 2000 and it was once close to al-Qaida. In 2014 it began to draw closer to ISIS, which conquered vast areas in Syria and Iraq and declared a “caliphate.”
In June 2016, Sidney Jones of the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflicts in Jakarta told the NPR that Abu Sayyaf had been fractured into seven factions and retreated to Basilan. “Now we’re looking at where ISIS support is strongest is in the southern Philippines, it’s actually on Basilan, the site of the US triumphant victory in eradicating Sayyaf forces.”
Isnilon Hapilon, an Abu Sayyaf leader emerged as a strong force in 2016. In battles with the Philippine Army, Moroccan and Indonesian fighters became the cadres of what was now an ISIS-affiliate.

In January, according to a report at the website Rappler, Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana warned that ISIS had encouraged Hapilon to move to central Mindanao to create a wilayet or province of the caliphate using the Maute Islamist group there as a basis. “Central Mindanao is more conducive to the establishment of their wilayet,” Lorenzana said to reporters in January 2017.

Pawel Wojcik, an analyst who tracks jihadist movements and has been following battles for Marawi for, a Polish media outlet, says this year’s attack was long expected.
“Insurgent attacks were increasing across Lanao del Sur and islands further south.”

He says that Isnilon gathered numerous groups under a unified command and the attack on Marawi on May 23 shows how ISIS in the Philippines is being changed. “The worst is yet to come.”

After ISIS established itself in Marawi the Philippine Army thought they could dislodge the extremists but have found themselves in a monthlong battle that continues to stretch on. Hundreds have been killed, including dozens of soldiers and civilians.

Reports remind one of how ISIS operated in Mosul and Raqqa. A report at ABS-CBN News notes “bomb proof tunnels, anti-tank weapons hidden in mosques, human shields, mastery of the terrain.” As in Mosul, ISIS has burned churches, kidnapped priests and non-Muslim women and attacked a local college. In turn the government declared martial law across Mindanao.

Local reports say there are around 500 ISIS fighters in the city, including 40 foreign fighters, which is also similar to the ISIS strategy in Iraq and Syria. Tens of thousands are displaced by the fighting. Even though Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has vowed to “eat” the extremists, reports say he also favored a peace deal to end the crisis.

Wojcik says East Asia jihadist forums see Marawi as a success and the longer the battle lasts, the more propaganda ISIS gets. He warns the new attacks may occur in South Cotabato and threaten the region.

“China is well aware of this threat, hence a quick help that Chinese weapons companies delivered to the Filipino army.” China fears extremism in its western Xinjiang province while the US and Australia both have concerns about Islamist attacks across Asia. “The positive thing that has appeared during the Marawi siege is close cooperation between the Indonesian, Malaysian and Filipino navies,” says Wojcik.

This has implications that stretch all the way to the Middle East. Foreign jihadists from the region have traveled to Asia to support ISIS there. In addition, these kinds of groups network, just as they did in the 1990s, with terrorist plans that affect India and countries throughout the world. Jerusalem, which just hosted the Indian Prime Minister and has security ties in Asia and the Philippines, should pay attention to Marawi.

More than 2,000 highland villagers flee for fear of being hit in crossfire

From the Manila Bulletin (Jul 8): More than 2,000 highland villagers flee for fear of being hit in crossfire

More than 2,000 villagers have fled their homes for fear of being caught in the crossfire that might erupt between government security forces and communist insurgents in the mountain villages of Lianga town in Surigao del Sur province.

Map of Surigao del Sur (Credits: Google Maps | Manila Bulletin)

The highland villagers, mostly members of the Manobo tribe, fled their homes and farmlands beginning Monday, July 3, 2017 up to Wednesday, in the sitios of Panac-moan, Han-ayan, Dikoy, Manluy-a, Sitio Kilometer 14 and Emerald, all of Barangay Diatagon, in Lianga town.

Karapatan, a human rights group based in Surigao del Sur attributed the exodus of the highland villagers to the military presence in the lumad communities of Lianga, San Miguel and San Agustin towns, in Surigao del Sur province, since July 3, 2017, saying that the military movements caused fear among the villagers.
Combat maneuvering troops of the 75th Infantry Battalion (75th IB), 36th IB and 6th Special Forces Battalion had been deployed in Surigao del Sur province since 2015, particularly in Lianga town to crush the remaining New People’s Army (NPA) rebels.

The command group of the Army’s 402nd Infantry (Stingers) Brigade led by Col. Franco Nemesio Gacal based in Tandag City, said the field units in the province had been extending a “helping hand” to village communities, in relation to their ongoing peace and development program.
The highland villagers have been temporarily sheltered at Simowao Tribal Community School and nearby Emerald village of that same town, with some villagers living with relatives in Sitio Kilometer 9 of Barangay Diatagon.

Students of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV), Inc. and volunteer teachers of six Tribal Filipino Community Schools run by the Tribal Filipino Program in the affected communities have also evacuated. Classes of the 633 Lumad students have been disrupted with the suspension of classes due to the evacuation.

It was gathered that Bishop Modesto Villasanta of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, chairman of the human rights group Karapatan in Surigao del Sur, will ask Gov. Vicente T. Pimentel to allow the use of the Surigao del Sur Sports Complex in Tandag City as temporary shelter for the evacuees.

Meanwhile, Surigao del Sur Gov. Pimentel dispatched officials and personnel of the provincial disaster risk reduction and management council to assess the reported new evacuees in Lianga town.

The regional office of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) based here is also set to deploy social workers to check the reported evacuees in Lianga town for possible relief assistance, DSWD 13 Regional Director Mita Chuchi G. Lim told The Manila Bulletin on Saturday.

Crushing the Maute-IS ‘ideology’

From the Business Mirror (Jul 7): Crushing the Maute-IS ‘ideology’ (By Rene Acosta)

THE ongoing quest by the military and the police to clear Marawi City of the Maute-Islamic State (IS) group, which tried to wrest control of the city from the government, has brought into focus how the Moros, especially those who have been radicalized, have devised means—including one that is extreme—to pursue their violent Islamic ideology.

While the Islamic caliphate of Mindanao, in particular, and initially of Lanao del Sur, which is being pushed and espoused by the group under Southeast Asia’s IS-recognized leader Isnilon Hapilon, may have already lost its cause, it has, however, also forced the government to ponder on and address the ideology that is fueling what has already morphed into an “Islamic terrorism”.

A lost cause because, other than the being waged with physical extermination of the leaders and followers of the Maute-IS group by the Armed Forces through its ongoing massive operation, the group has also permanently lost what is supposed to be its mass base of support—the people of Marawi—whom it may unlikely win over.

As the battle for the city unfolds and crackles to its end, the episode has also unleashed and unearthed the fury of the terrorists through their killings of Moros and Christians alike, their taking of hostages and their attempt to further wedge the long-held notion of division between the Moros and Christians by attacking and burning a Roman Catholic cathedral in the heart of Marawi.


Revealing harrowing tales by those who have been rescued or have managed to escape from the captivity of the group, the military, through Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera, spokesman of the Joint Task Force Marawi, had disclosed that women hostages have been turned into sex slaves, or were forced to marry their captors.The hostages, including the women, were also forced to take up arms and loot houses and business establishments of cash and jewelry, with the haul estimated to have already exceeded more than P500 million as of this week.

“These are evil personalities,” Herrera said of the Maute-IS leaders and their band, who have indoctrinated their captives by sheer force for their conversion into their own brand and beliefs of Islam.

The siege of the city that left it in ruins, which coincided with the holy month of Ramadan, and the killings done by the Maute-IS group, have drawn the ire of Moro officials and civilians in Mindanao, who spoke of despicable language against the terrorists.
Officials even feared that after the battle, Marawi may go into a clan war, with the kin of the civilians killed going after the Maute members and their relatives.


Over the past decades, Mindanao has seen the emergence and growth of different Moro groups with different aspirations for the region, although their end zeal is for Islam. All were also carried out with the aid of guns.

These groups are the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), which originally espoused for an independent Mindanao, but settled for an autonomy; the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) which pushed for a Bangsamoro republic, but is working for a semi-independent state; the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), which are pushing for a purely Islamic state; and the Maute Group, whose call is for the establishment of a caliphate.

While the government has managed to politically contain the MNLF and the MILF, and even the BIFF with force, it is still working to fully cope with the ASG and learning the ropes with the Maute, as both the last two groups have the propensity to wage and carry out their causes by all means, especially by way of terrorism.

The terrorism was brought by the radicalized indoctrination to Islam by the leaders and members of the two groups, giving way to militancy and extremism.

Rooting out the radical dogma
While the military has had programs in addressing the extreme Islamic ideology—or the way it is carried out—as admitted by military spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, the trend in Mindanao, particularly the events unfolding in Marawi City, has forced the Armed Forces to give focus to this ideology.

“We have programs to counter various violent ideologies. We have developed quite a good competency against those of the New People’s Army [NPA], but it is only now that we have focused on those related to radicalism and violent extremism,” he said.

Part of the program has been incorporated into the “Development Support and Security Plan Kapaya­paan”, the six-year operational plan of the Duterte administration in dealing with all threat groups.

“Kapayapaan is not merely a strategy that calls for combat only, but allows a broad range of best practices such as consultations, support to development, dialogues and confidence-building measures. These all complement the government peace initiatives,” Padilla.

However, the military spokesman said countering the radical ideology, including the campaign against terrorism, do not rest solely upon the shoulders of soldiers, but must involve the whole country.

“The campaign against terrorism requires the cooperation of the government and people. I call on the people to be vigilant and have security consciousness and bayanihan spirit to defeat terrorist infiltration,” Padilla said.

President Duterte has in part blamed some officials and residents of Marawi on why the Maute-IS group has managed to stock up arms and smuggle fighters within their midst. It was as if they allowed it or took a “no one cares” stand.

But the Maute and the ASG are just a small parcel of the whole Moro community in Mindanao, according to Padilla.

“Like in any religion, there are small extremist elements who try to hijack causes and grievances existing in Muslim communities in the Philippines. These small groups are collectively put in one category as terrorists together with the NPA,” he said.

Padilla added the military, in tandem with the government, is also working to address the factors that propel the violent ideology in Mindanao, foremost of which is the poor social condition in the region, as admitted not only by the government but even by international aid agencies.

“Given that these social problems have existed for generations in Mindanao, we cannot solve this overnight and it has been a continuous step-by-step process to solve it. The military remains committed to the government in support of these initiatives,” he said.

The best strategy has always been a whole of government approach with broad sectoral consultation among our Muslim brothers and sisters. The military will always be committed to such a strategy,” he added.

US vows to stand by AFP vs terrorism

From the Philippine Star (Jul 8): US vows to stand by AFP vs terrorism

The United States continues to stand by the Philippines in the latter’s fight against terrorism and in efforts to fully secure and rebuild the ravaged Marawi City, Ambassador Sung Kim said in remarks on Thursday at the commemoration of the 241st anniversary of US Independence. AP/File

The United States continues to stand by the Philippines in the latter’s fight against terrorism and in efforts to fully secure and rebuild the ravaged Marawi City, Ambassador Sung Kim said in remarks on Thursday at the commemoration of the 241st anniversary of US Independence.

“We will continue to stand by the Armed Forces of the Philippines as they courageously fight terrorism to keep this country safe,” Kim told a gathering of diplomats and officials at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel Thursday night.

He noted the US and the Philippines share common core values.

“And we are proud of the support and President Duterte’s determination to secure and rebuild Marawi,” he said.

In earlier remarks to the media, the ambassador said the US would continue its assistance to Filipino troops, especially those fighting Maute and Abu Sayyaf militants in Marawi.

“Our thoughts are with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the residents of Marawi,” Kim said.

 “They are going through a very difficult time and I will now assure them that we will continue to support them in any way possible going forward,” he added.

“This is a good time to think about and reflect on America and America’s friendship with the Philippines.”

US Defense Secretary James Mattis assured the Philippines in his address at a regional security summit in Asia last month that the US remained committed to helping a long-time ally under the Mutual Defense Treaty.

The US, he added, was unwavering in its commitment to help in the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

PNP to use 3,000 donated Chinese rifles

From Update Philippines (Jul 6): PNP to use 3,000 donated Chinese rifles

National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the rifles and ammunitions China donated to the Philippines will be used by the Philippine National Police (PNP) while the sniper rifles will be used by the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“Yung firearms na binigay sa atin, 60 sniper rifles plus 3,000 M16s,” Secrerary Lorenzana said during a press briefing with PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa and other officials in Marawi City, July 7.

China donated TY-85 7.62mm sniper rifles, CS/LR4A high precision rifles, CQ-A5 5.56 auto rifles to the Philippines.

The CQ is a Chinese variant of the M16 rifle. Another variant of CQ, the CQ Type A is a copy of M4.

“‘Yung 3,000 M16s ni-receive ko lang ‘yun but it will be given eventually to the Philippine National Police (PNP) dahil wala silang mga long firearms plus ‘yung 5 million ammunition ng baril na ‘yun,” Lorenzana explained.

“We are going to retain the sniper rifles because we need those, [and] will be given to the Army and Marines for any other operations aside from Marawi,” he added.

Navy receives copy of ‘mother’ of all PH maps: Manifestation of sovereignty

From Update Philippines (Jul 7): Navy receives copy of ‘mother’ of all PH maps: Manifestation of sovereignty

The Philippine Navy, on July 6, received an official replica of the 1734 Murillo Velarde Map. The said map is considered as the ‘Mother of all Philippine Maps’.

The replica was turned over by Mr. Mel V. Velarde Chairman of Velarde Inc. and Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication to Chief of Naval Staff Rear Admiral Allan V. Cusi.

Murillo Velarde Map supports the claim of the Philippines on the disputed territories in West Philippine Sea. It was first published in 1734 in Manila by Fr. Pedro Murillo Velarde, a Jesuit priest.

The most useful feature of the map is includes “Bajo de Masinloc” and “Panacot” – now known as Panatag or Scarborough Shoal.

“This simple turnover ceremony of the Philippine map replica will be a manifestation of our sovereignty and will be displayed in a prominent and conspicuous area in the Headquarters to serve as a reminder of our country’s sovereign territorial rights,” the Philippine Navy said.

“Essentially, this map was acquired during an auction event in the United Kingdom through auction by Sotheby in 2014,” the Navy added. “The original artifact of the above mentioned map was donated by Mr. Velarde to the Philippine Government through the office of the Solicitor General.”

Commanders may decide to use heavy bombs in Marawi

From Update Philippines (Jul 7): Commanders may decide to use heavy bombs in Marawi

Commanders operating in Marawi City may decide whether to use a 500-pound bomb against Maute and Abu Sayyaf terrorists in Marawi City if they deem necessary, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Brigadier General Restituto Padilla, Jr. said in today’s Mindanao Hour Press Briefing in Malacañang Palace.

“The amount of force applied to a specific target should be commensurate to the target that needs to be destroyed,” Brigadier General Padilla said when asked if the military in Marawi is planning to drop 500-pound.

“So, if it’s a small target, it’s a small ordnance. If it’s a big target, then it demands a bigger ordnance. So, the discretion of the ground commander here is what we respect regarding the targets that he needs to address,” the AFP spokesperson explained.

“There are buildings there that could not be easily destroyed because these are well-built areas and hence, he may need bigger ordnance,” he added.

On Tuesday, July 4 during the 70th anniversary celebration of Philippine Air Force – FA-50PH displayed were seen carrying different types of munitions along with the 500-pound Mark 82 low-drag general-purpose bomb.

Air strikes target high-rise snipers in Marawi

From Rappler (Jul 8): Air strikes target high-rise snipers in Marawi

Snipers in high-rise buildings are the main problem facing Philippine forces battling to crush pro-Islamic State fighters in Marawi.

Soldiers walk past Islamic State (IS) group graffiti in Marawi on on May 31, 2017. Photo by Ted Aljibe/AFP

Soldiers walk past Islamic State (IS) group graffiti in Marawi on on May 31, 2017. Photo by Ted Aljibe/AFP

Snipers in high-rise buildings are the main problem facing Philippine forces battling to crush pro-Islamic State (ISIS) fighters who have occupied a southern city for more than a month, a military spokesman said Saturday.

Lieutenant Colonel Jo-ar Herrera said this was the reason the government was using air strikes against the terrorists despite the massive damage it may cause in the city of Marawi.
"If we do not use air strikes, we will incur more casualties of our troops," he told reporters in Marawi, which was overrun by hundreds of terrorists on May 23.

Despite more than a month of fighting with hundreds of government troops, terrorists flying the black flag of the ISIS group are still entrenched in parts of the city.

(READ: Marawi Clash: Special Coverage)

The military has used jet fighters, attack planes and helicopter gunships, armed with bombs and rockets, to attack areas where the gunmen are hiding.

"We have identified key defensive positions. These are being subjected to surgical air strikes now. They are still occupying high-rise buildings. We need to take them down so we can facilitate a swift offensive of our troops," Herrera said.

"One reason we are using air assets... is this is the advantage we need to neutralise the snipers' positions," the regional military spokesman added.

"They occupy high-rise buildings so we have to be higher. So we use air strikes."

While hundreds of fighters rampaged through much of Marawi in the early days of the siege, Herrera said there were now around 80 gunmen still active in the "main battle area" comprising around 800 buildings.

"These are the tall buildings. This was the centre of commerce of Marawi City," he explained.

However the buildings also needed to be cleared of improvised bombs and other booby-traps as the troops advance, he said.

There are also about 300 civilians trapped in the area, Herrera said, adding that some were being used as hostages, bearers of supplies and even being forced to help in looting the city.

President Rodrigo Duterte last month vowed to "crush" the militants, but several deadlines have already been missed to end a conflict that has forced almost 400,000 people from their homes.

The fighting has reduced Marawi, considered the Muslim capital of the largely Catholic Philippines, to a ruined ghost town. It also prompted Duterte to declare martial law over the entire southern Philippines.

Herrera said 366 enemy fighters, 39 civilians and 87 government troops had been killed in the fighting so far.

2 kidnapped boat crewmen recovered in Sulu

From Rappler (Jul 8): 2 kidnapped boat crewmen recovered in Sulu

The two are among the 4 men kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf in December 2016 in the Celebes Sea

Two boat crewmen kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) late last year have been recovered by military and police forces in Sulu.

In a statement sent to the media on Saturday, July 8, the Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) reported that Reyjim Rocabo and Roel Leones were recovered in Daang Puti, Patikul, Sulu on Friday afternoon, July 7.
Joint elements of the Anti-Kidnapping Group, the Sulu provincial police, and the 501st Brigade under Joint Task Force Sulu facilitated the recovery.

Rocabo and Leones, crewmen of FB Ramona 2, were among the 4 men kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf on December 20, 2016, in the Celebes Sea.

The Wesmincom said Rocabo, 41, and Leones, 37 – both from Tukuran, Zamboanga del Sur – "were on board a motorcycle when intercepted and recovered by government forces."

"Upon initial verification, the duo revealed that they were kept under the custody of a certain Ben Tatoo and Almujer Yadah during their captivity, along with some other kidnap victims," the Wesmincom added.

Rocabo and Leones are now under the custody of the Anti-Kidnapping Group. They "will eventually be turned over to their families after actionable information [would] be taken from them," said Brigadier General Cirilito Sobejana, commander of Joint Task Force Sulu.

FB Ramona 2 boat captain Noel Besconde was beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf on April 13.

The 4th crew member, Roy Borja Ramos, was rescued on June 8 at Barangay Lagtoh in Talipao town, after making an escape from his captors in the Patikul area two days earlier.

The Wesmincom said that 20 people – 16 foreigners and 4 Filipinos – remain in the hands of Abu Sayyaf.

3 Abus, 1 soldier killed in encounter
Meanwhile, the Wesmincom also reported that 3 Abu Sayyaf members were killed in an encounter in Patikul on Saturday morning.

The military acted upon the information taken from Rocabo and Leones, the Wesmincom said, adding that the two "pinpointed the locations of the targetted Abu Sayyaf group [which], according to the duo, is keeping captive other kidnap victims including some Vietnamese crewmen."

The 21st Infantry Battalion, headed by Major Christopher Genzola, engaged in a firefight with the ASG under Almujer Yaddah at Sitio Darayan in Patikul.

Troops recovered "one unidentified dead body of the enemy from the encounter site" during clearing operations. The soldiers "were also able to see the bandits dragging two bodies of their companions who appeared to be already lifeless," said BGen Sobejana.

The Wesmincom said one soldier also died in the encounter, while 15 others were slightly wounded.

"The family of the fallen soldier will immediately be notified and will receive all compensations due to the family of a hero," said Sobejana.

The Joint Task Force Sulu are in still in the area pursuing the bandits, he added.

Soldiers in Bicol raise funds for Marawi evacuees

From Rappler (Jul 9): Soldiers in Bicol raise funds for Marawi evacuees

Members of the military in Bicol, who spearheaded the donation drive, thank Bicolanos for helping Marawi City   

AID FOR MARAWI. Bicolano soldiers led by Captain Ronnie Madrinan of the Philippine Army's 9th Infantry Division stand in front of the trucks containing relief goods for Marawi evacuees. Photo by Rhaydz B. Barcia/Rappler

AID FOR MARAWI. Bicolano soldiers led by Captain Ronnie Madrinan of the Philippine Army's 9th Infantry Division stand in front of the trucks containing relief goods for Marawi evacuees. Photo by Rhaydz B. Barcia/Rappler

The military in the Bicol region picked up various donations by Bicolanos for Marawi City refugees through house-to-house and store-to-store visits, as well as from local radio stations and other designated stations here.

The collection of assorted relief goods was done for a week, before the military's scheduled trip to Iligan City in Mindanao. The flow of relief goods continued even shortly before the said trip.

On July 7, Army Captain Ronnie Madrinan of the 9th Infantry Division public affairs led the Armed Forces of the Philippines' (AFP) humanitarian team that would bring the relief goods to Marawi.

At least 5 military and government trucks were loaded with 200 sacks of rice, canned goods, noodles, and used clothing, gathered after almost 3 weeks of knocking on the doors of Bicolanos to seek aid for Marawi City, where clashes between government forces and the terrorists Maute Group have lasted more than a month.

The AFP also raised P800,000 solely from the pockets of Bicolanos. This, along with the relief goods, will be handed over by Madrinan to the city social welfare office of Marawi City, which is currently stationed in Iligan City.

Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara and Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal also provided P200,000 each for Marawi.

Madrinan left the Tabaco City international seaport and boarded commercial ferryboat Regina Calixta – owned by Catanduanes Governor Joseph Cua – bound for Virac, to get the goods shared by the people of Catanduanes.

The AFP Bicol was given a 50% discount by Regina Calixta management for shipping fees. But from Virac, Madrinan said the transport of the goods to Iligan City will be for free, through a cargo ship also owned by Governor Cua.

'Grateful to Bicolanos'

The AFP Bicol has already been receiving donations from people from all walks of life. For instance, Carlo Lincaso, owner of an ukay-ukay store in Legazpi City and a former cameraman of GMA-7 donated 5 big sacks of used clothing for Marawi refugees. The donation was picked up by Tactical Operations Group 5-Philippine Air Force personnel.

"We're grateful to the Bicolanos because for just less than 3 weeks, we were able to produce P800,000 and assorted relief goods for war-torn stricken city of Marawi. Bicolanos share whatever they can. These goods and money came solely from the Bicolanos, our stakeholders," Madrinan said.

On June 19, a simultaneous kick-off ceremony in the 6 provinces of Bicol launched AFP Bicol's "Pagmakulog sa Sadiring Lahi (Compassion for our Fellowmen)" project, an initiative to lend a hand to the Marawi evacuees. The launch was led by General Manuelito Orense, commanding officer of the Army's 9th Infantry Division.

The program aims to encourage Bicolanos to give any form of assistance they can, including moral and spiritual support, to boost the morale of the displaced families.

The AFP in Bicol also tapped social media and local radio stations across the region to appeal for help from netizens and listeners.

"We hope that the war in Marawi will be over so that the displaced families can return home," Madrinan said. His team will be cruising on the high seas for 3 days before reaching Iligan City.

The Army team is a veteran of humanitarian missions under the Team Albay-Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Bicol, during the term of former Albay governor and current 2nd district congressman Joey Salceda and OCD director Raffy Alejandro.

The AFP in Bicol earlier sent at least 3 battalions to Mindanao before the Marawi City clashes erupted, to go after terrorists sowing fear in various parts of the region.

Since the Marawi siege started on May 23, at least 3 Bicolano Marines and an army soldier have been killed in action. The fallen heroes were given military honors here.

(News Feature) Majority of MID assets now seeing action in Marawi City

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 9): (News Feature) Majority of MID assets now seeing action in Marawi City

A large portion of the country's armored assets are now seeing action in the ongoing operations to clear Marawi City of the remaining Maute Group terrorists.

This was bared by Mechanized Infantry Division (MID) public affairs office chief Capt. Emman Adriano in an interview with the PNA over the weekend.

"(Armored assets deployed ) are four mechanized battalions, one cavalry squadron and one light armored troop. All of our newly acquired armored vehicles are now deployed in Marawi City," he added in Filipino.

These units consists of more than 120 armored vehicles of various types.

The EDA Program grants excess US military equipment, without cost, to qualified allied countries.

The new armored vehicles, Adriano is referring to the 114 M-113A2 armored personnel carriers acquired from the US through the Excess Defense Articles Program (EDA) in 2016.

The latter program gives excess American military equipment, without cost, to qualified allied countries.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines virtually got these additional armored assets for free saved for the shipping costs which amounted to PHP67.5 million and refitting of .50 caliber machine guns to the APCs.

The M-113A2 was developed to provide a survivable and reliable light tracked vehicle that allows for troops to be brought forward under armor for dismounted operations.

Also seeing action are the 28 armored vehicles fitted with remote-control weapons systems with .50 caliber, 25mm and 90mm guns.

The above-mentioned armored units were upgraded by Israeli defense manufacturer Elbit Systems Ltd for PHP882 million last 2014 and delivered in 2016.

Team Tabak: #Support OurTroops Wall in Marawi

Posted to the Team Tabak (1st Infantry Division) Website (Jul 7): #Support OurTroops Wall in Marawi

 ACS of CMO G7

To show encouragement for our government troops, #SupportOurTroops walls are placed at several locations in Marawi City. Civilian stakeholders from various government and non-government sectors have taken the opportunity to express their support to our troops on the ground.

Brig. Gen. Rolly Bautista, Commander of Task Force Marawi said: “We deeply express our gratitude to all individuals, groups, and organizations who have been showing overwhelming support to our troops who are relentlessly exerting efforts and determination in our goal to wipe out terrorist elements in the city of Marawi.”

“With your support, your troops are greatly strengthened and motivated in our shared responsibility of pursuing of peace and development,” Brig. Gen. Bautista said.

Signing of #SupportOurTroops wall, who donated items from #SupportOurTroops caravan in Davao City, KCC Mall Gensan and Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Colleges-MI Koronadal/P. Millado. Thank you so much for your support.

Team Tabak: Troops retake Maute strongpoint in Marawi

Posted to the Team Tabak (1st Infantry Division) Website (Jul 4): Troops retake Maute strongpoint in Marawi

ACS of CMO G7 July 4, 2017

Camp Ranao, Marawi City, July 4, 2017 – Enemy strong points fall one by one while government troops gradually take over terrorist held structures. Government forces have successfully overran and taken control of Dansalan College, another Maute-Abu Sayyaf Group strongpoint on ground zero main battle area in Marawi yesterday, July 3, 2017.

Dansalan College is host to some high-rise structures that serve as machine gun nest and snipers’ vantage position of terrorist elements. As troops wrest control of the school, they recovered a Cal .50 heavy machinegun and 14 other high-powered firearms.

This brings to 410 the total number of firearms recovered by operating troops in the clearing operations to neutralize terrorists and criminal elements in Marawi City.

A cadaver of a foreign looking individual was also recovered by troops. It is believed that it is one of the reported foreign fighters from Singapore. A total of 11 suspected foreign fighters have been reportedly killed so far.

Dansalan College is one of the establishments taken and partially burned by Maute/ASG terrorist when they attacked the city on May 23, 2017.

This is the same school where the Maute brothers had their earlier education. The acts of destruction landed them in the most notorious and abhorred alumni list.

Brig. Gen. Rolly Bautisa, Commander of Joint Task Force Marawi said: “It will just be a matter of time when our soldiers will fully liberate Marawi from terrorists and criminal gangs who brought mayhem to this city. We owe this to our Maranao brothers and sisters. Our soldiers fully know what is at stake and we will strive together to neutralize these criminals in order to bring peace and normalcy in Marawi.”

As government forces continue to gain ground and foothold on enemy strongholds, a daily stream of civilians are being rescued while battle rages on. Government forces together with civilian counterparts have rescued a total of 1,717 trapped civilians as of this date.

Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., Commander of Western Mindanao Command emphasized that the clearing operations put utmost consideration on the safety of trapped civilians.

“Our soldiers together with our civilian counterparts will do everything in their power to locate more trapped civilians and device steps to rescue as many as possible,” Lt. Gen Galvez said.

According to Lt. Galvez, about 300 to 500 civilians are still trapped in the conflict area from the original estimate of 2,000 to 2,500 in the early days.

MILF: Muslim Aid Supports 33rd Muslim Blood Donation

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Jul 7): Muslim Aid Supports 33rd Muslim Blood Donation

In photo- Volunteers and donors during the 33rd MBD at City Mall, Cotabato City

“As part of its humanitarian activity, the Muslim Aid supported the 33rd Muslim Blood Donation (MBD) conducted by the Bangsamoro Development Agency-Central Mindanao (BDA-CenMin) held at City Mall of Cotabato City last July 2, 2017,” said Amoth Polalon, Health Development Program Coordinator of BDA-CenMin.

In an interview by BDA-CenMin Communication Group (ComGroup) with Pendatun Patarasa, Muslim Aid Project Manager, he said that, “The Muslim Aid already dreamed to support the MBD during the 32nd bloodletting activity and the dream now finally comes true that this international organization had supported the 33rd MBD.”

“In particular, food assistance was provided by Muslim Aid as part of its humanitarian activities that focus on health care,” Patarasa also said.

In behalf of the Muslim Aid, Patarsa also expressed his deep interest and commitment to help if ever the MBD will be replicated in the island provinces.

As an organization, the Muslim Aid with a mantra, serving the humanity, has the following programs; such as:

1. Shelter

2. Livelihood

3. Youth Empowerment

4. Education, Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WaSH), and

5. Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), Climate Change and Adaptation (CAA), & Emergency Response.

“The Muslim Aid has been implementing various development projects in the Philippines, particularly in Luzon, Visayas and Mindnao,” Patarasa pointed out.

“Muslim Aid is an international organization with domestic office address based in Bagua II, Cotabato City, Mindanao, Philippines,” added Patarasa.

On behalf of BDA-CenMin, Sheikh Abdulrasheed Ambil, BDA-CenMin Regional Manager expressed his thanks and gratitude to the Muslim Aid for its support by way of food assistance during the 33rd MBD.

He also said that aside from Muslim Aid, other organizations also supported the BDA-CenMin during the 33rd MBD.

MILF: IDs For Muslims In Central Luzon Is Discriminatory And Prohibited Under International Covenant: Human Rights Watch

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Jul 7): IDs For Muslims In Central Luzon Is Discriminatory And Prohibited Under International Covenant: Human Rights Watch

 Photo from Business World Online

Reacting to the proposal of police and military officials in Central Luzon to issue mandatory identification cards to Muslims as a way to flush out terrorists, the Human Rights Watch said the ID system would discriminate against Muslims based on religion, which is prohibited by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other human rights treaties to which the Philippines is a party.

“The IDs could also violate the rights to equal protection of the law, freedom of movement, and other basic rights,” said Carlos Conde, Philippine researcher for Human Rights Watch.

Conde said the ID proposal stems from the ongoing fighting in Marawi City in Mindanao between government troops and ISIS-linked Maute-Abu Sayyaf terrorists.

Conde said it is irrelevant from a rights perspective that during the consultation, some Muslim leaders did not object outright to the proposal.

“Since Duterte declared martial law throughout Mindanao on May 23, there have been reports of discrimination against Muslims. ID requirements for Muslims should be rejected outright,” said Conde. (Source: Manila Standard)

MILF: Malacañang Sets July 18 As New Schedule Of Submission Of Draft BBL

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Jul 6): Malacañang Sets July 18 As New Schedule Of Submission Of Draft BBL

Photo from facebook account of BTC Commissioner Maisara C. Dandamun-Latiph

The Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) will submit its draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to President Rodrigo Duterte on July 18, a month and two days after completing it and six days before the President delivers his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) where he is expected to certify the bill as urgent, said an online report by Mindanews.

In a text message to Mindanews, BTC chair Ghazali Jaafar said he does not know if the President will still review the draft as he had repeatedly said he would, or hand it over immediately to Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on the same day it is submitted to him in Malacañang.

“That we don’t know. That depends on the President, Jaafar, concurrent 1st Vice Chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) told MindaNews.

The new draft BBL crafted by the BTC chaired by Jaafar, consists of 114 pages and 18 articles.

In his speech at the inauguration of the PTV Cordillera hub in Baguio City on March 11, Duterte said of the draft BBL: “I will study it before we submit it to Congress and pray that it would sail on still waters.”

“Maybe the Senate would have a more or less rigorous opposition, that’s expected. This is a democracy,” he said.

The submission of the draft BBL has been postponed several times due various reasons.

NDF: Lorenzana ignorant that reforms are at peace talks’ heart

Propaganda statement posted to the National Democratic Front Website (Jul 6): Lorenzana ignorant that reforms are at peace talks’ heart

 Press Statement
05 July 2017

NDFP RWC-SER Vice Chair Alan Jazmines stressing the need to proceed with the discussions on socioeconomic reforms during the 3rd round of formal talks in Rome January 2017 /

The Reciprocal Working Committee on Socio-Economic Reforms of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP RWC-SER) welcomes the announcement that the fifth round of formal peace talks between the NDFP and the GRP might resume in August. At the same time, the NDFP RWC-SER condemns Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana’s earlier statement that the “government panel should consider ending the peace process.”

This statement only shows that the Defense Secretary is a cold-blooded warmonger who has no interest at all in advancing the interests of the Filipino people. His continuous harping that there should be a bilateral ceasefire before any peace talks can resume is putting the cart before the horse.

He has shown that he has no grasp at all of the roots of the armed conflict. He rejects the fact that socio-economic reforms lie at the heart of the peace talks. He does not seem to care that any substantial gain that can be reached by the NDFP and the GRP would benefit the greater majority of the Filipino people. Without any remorse to the lives lost, he is brazenly pursuing a purely military solution to the armed conflict in the country.

Like the US lapdog and militarist that he is, Lorenzana show no appreciation for the milestone agreement reached by both parties on the principle of free distribution of land to the tillers in the third round of the talks. In fact, he has viciously gone after ordinary farmers and their organizations defending their right to till their land. He has opposed the statement of his own President who has issued a clarion call to occupy oligarchs’ lands.

More and more, Lorenzana is proving himself to be a major obstacle to peace and if President Rodrigo Duterte and the GRP panel want to genuinely pursue the road of peace, they must make sure that such an obstacle is removed.###

Alan Jazmines
Vice-Chairperson, NDFP Reciprocal Working Committee on Socio-Economic Reforms
Contact Number: + 63 949 137 7260

NDF/ILPS: ILPS statement on G20 Summit in Hamburg, refers to economic crisis and extreme global debt

ILPS propaganda statement posted to the National Democratic Front Website (Jul 6): ILPS statement on G20 Summit in Hamburg, refers to economic crisis and extreme global debt

Issued by the Office of the Chairperson
International League of Peoples’ Struggle
July 6, 2017

The G20 Heads of State and Government will meet once again on 7 and 8 July 2017 in Hamburg, Germany. They have met annually since 2008 to address issues related to global financial stability, economic growth and international trade. In recent years they have expanded their agenda to include other issues closely linked with the global economy, including climate change, development policy, labour market and employment policy, the spread of digital technology and even counter-terrorism.

After 12 summits, the G20 is nowhere near meeting its avowed objectives. Despite claims of economic recovery, growth in almost all the advanced capitalist economies has barely exceeded 2 percent per year since 2010, after contracting in 2008-2009. The ultraloose monetary policies they have adopted have merely succeeded in creating new property bubbles as well as a surge in speculative capital flows and booms in credit and asset markets in so-called emerging economies. This is exacerbating financial fragility rather than enhancing stability.

Moreover, these policies have accelerated the build up of debt both in the imperialist centers and underdeveloped countries. The global stock of debt has grown by over $50 trillion since 2008, surging to a record $217 trillion as of the first quarter of 2017. This is more than three times the output (GDP) of the entire global economy in one year.

Some 10 percent of this global debt stock or around $20 trillion is owed by the US. But China’s debt is rising the fastest, followed by Brazil and India among the so-called emerging economies. Reuters reports that ´emerging´ economies have increased their debt by $3 trillion to $56 trillion, equivalent to 218 percent of their combined GDP. Two trillion of this has been incurred by China, whose estimated debt stands at 260 percent of its GDP. To make matters even more alarming, there’s over $1.9 trillion of emerging market bonds and syndicated loans maturing through to the end of 2017. This is creating the conditions for a new financial convulsion that will be worse than 2008-09.

The finance oligarchy is pleased with the G20, however, as their monopoly banks posted even higher profits in the past three years than before. Indeed, the four biggest US banks were 30 percent larger by 2013 than they had been before the crisis, making them even more “too-big-to-fail” than ever before.

On the other hand, the ranks of the unemployed is expected to exceed 200 million this year according to conservative estimates of the ILO. Of those with jobs, more than 1.4 billion are now in precarious kinds of work, growing by 11 million per year as governments impose labor flexibilization policies to enhance the competitiveness of monopoly firms.

Even middle class families in the advanced capitalist countries are joining the ranks of over 1.6 billion people all over the world who are denied health, education services, and an adequate standard of living. This is made worse by cutbacks in social spending while military expenditure is jacked up for the military-industrial complex, and taxes are reduced for the finance oligarchy.

As in past summits, these harsh realities will be denied or ignored by the G20 leaders in their official statements. More than this, they are intent on using fascist repression against the people who are gathering in the tens of thousands in Hamburg to expose these truths and oppose the anti-people policies of the G20.

This summit is also notable because it is happening amidst rising tensions between the leading imperialist members of the G20. Every major summit so far this year has exposed the widening rift between the US and its traditional allies across the Atlantic. After the G7 Summit last May, German Chancellor Merkel was quoted as saying that, “The times when we could fully rely on others are to some extent over. We Europeans must really take our destiny into our own hands.”

This is in response to the US government’s increasing unilateralism and belligerent attitude vis-à-vis its so-called allies under Trump. At the G7 Summit, Trump refused to commit to a common climate policy because it would constrain the expansion of US monopoly firms. At the NATO Summit also held last May, Trump refused to reaffirm a commitment to Article 5 of the NATO treaty, which obligates member states to come to each other’s assistance when attacked.

Instead he badgered other NATO members to increase their share of the cost of securing global capitalism. Before these, Trump also shelved the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and pledged to renegotiate existing treaties to protect “American” (i.e. US monopoly capitalist) interests.

This is prompting Germany and other European powers to cosy up more with China. They are especially keen on riding the One Belt, One Road initiative of China which plans to build six economic corridors spanning the Eurasian continent by land and by sea.

Hence the G20 will be another venue where increasing inter-imperialist conflicts and realignments will be played out. Underlying this is the intensifying general crisis of monopoly capitalism and the increasing desperation of US imperialism to retain its primacy and the US-led world order it has secured since the end of the Second Word War.

Democratic and anti-imperialist forces in the world must expose the real roots of the crisis of the global capitalist system and the role of the finance oligarchy and the institutions that serve their interests including the G20. It is only through mass struggles that we the people can effectively resist imperialism and liberate ourselves from all reaction.

CPP/NPA-ST: Papanagutin ang rehimeng Duterte sa kanilang krimen laban sa mamamayang Moro

NPA-Southern Tagalog propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Jul 6): Papanagutin ang rehimeng Duterte sa kanilang krimen laban sa mamamayang Moro

Jaime “Ka Diego” Padilla, Spokesperson
NPA-Southern Tagalog (Melito Glor Command)

6 July 2017

Hindi matatapatan ng anumang limos mula sa reaksyunaryong gobyerno ang pinsalang idinulot ng inilunsad nitong gera laban sa mamamayang Moro sa Marawi City, at sa buong Mindanao. Nagsilbing panakip-butas lamang ang P25 bilyong proyektong rehabilitasyon na hinding-hindi kailanman sasapat para sa mga buhay na kinitil, sa pinsalang sikolohikal at emosyonal sa mamamayan, at sa mga ari-arian at imprastrakturang winasak ng karahasan ng berdugong Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) at Philippine National Police (PNP) sa ngalan ng Martial Law at gera-kontra-terorismo.

Hindi kayang tumbasan ng pera ang pait at poot na dinanas ng mamamayan, lalo ng mamamayang Moro, sa paulit-ulit na panganganyon at pambobomba ng AFP at PNP sa siyudad ng Marawi. Labis-labis na pagdurusa ang sinapit nila sa kamay ng mga mersenaryo. Nagtitiis rin ang mga nadisloka sa mga evacuation center na lalong nagpahirap sa kanilang abang kalagayan, habang tumatanggap naman ang rehimeng Duterte ng samu’t saring tulong mula sa iba’t ibang mga organisasyon at bansang nakikisimpatiya sa kaguluhan.

Habang patuloy na nagdarahop ang mamamayan sa kakulangan ng suplay at tulong, ginagawa namang negosyo ng mga kurap na opisyales at ahensya ng gobyerno ang mga donasyon at hindi buong tinutugunan ang daing ng mamamayan. Matatandaan ang saku-sakong bigas na nakalaan sana sa mga biktima ng kalamidad subalit hindi na napakinabangan ng mamamayan dahil nabulok at nasayang na ang mga ito bunsod ng pagtatago ng National Food Authority (NFA) sa suplay.

Kita rin ang mabagal na pag-usad ng pagtitiyak at pangangalaga sa kalusugan ng mga biktima. Ilang mga residente na ang namamatay, kabilang ang mga bata, dahil sa hindi magandang kalagayan sa evacuation centers at sa kakulangan ng pagkain at gamot.

Samantala, pinaglalawayan ng malalaking burgesya kumprador at mga dayuhang negosyante ang malaking ganansyang mahuhuthot sa mga programang rehabilitasyon at pagtatayo ng mga imprastraktura sa Marawi City. Pagkakagastusang muli ito ng reaksyunaryong gobyerno gamit ang pondong nagmula sa pera ng mamamayan. Ipapapasan muli ng rehimeng Duterte sa mamamayang Pilipino ang mataas na buwis upang maging puhunan ng pagtatayo ng mga istruktura matapos gamitin ang pera ng mamamayan sa pagbili ng mga bala at armas ng militar at pulis na ginamit rin sa pagwasak ng Marawi City.

Habambuhay nang nakatatak sa kamalayan ng mamamayang Moro at buong sambayanang Pilipino ang pagwasak at pinsalang idinulot ng digmang inilunsad ng rehimeng Duterte sa ngalan ng gera-kontra-terorismo ng imperyalismong US. Higit pa sa rehabilitasyon at sa pagtatayo ng mga imprastraktura, magiging ganap lamang ang pagbangon ng Marawi City, ng mamamayang Moro at buong sambayanan kung maisusulong ang pakikibakang Moro para sa sariling pagpapasya at ang pakikibaka ng buong bayan para sa demokratikong karapatan at hustisyang panlipunan.

Kailangang magkaisa ng mga Moro at mamamayang Pilipino sa paglaban sa karahasan ng estado. Paigtingin ang pakikibaka upang wakasan na ang Martial Law sa Mindanao, palayasin ang AFP at mga sundalong Amerikano sa Marawi at sa buong bansa, at papanagutin si Duterte, ang US at AFP sa kanilang mga krimen laluna laban sa mamamayang Moro.

CPP/NDF-NCM: The Duterte Regime’s War Against Terrorism

National Democratic Front-North Central Mindanao propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Jul 6): The Duterte Regime’s War Against Terrorism

Pedro “Ka Gonyong” Codaste, Consultant
NDFP North Central Mindanao

6 July 2017

The supposed “war on terror” by the Duterte-AFP-US in Marawi has dragged on for over a month now and despite the AFP’s claim that the Maute group is already reduced to inconsequentiality it has on the contrary created a united front of all anti-government forces to fight a war of survival.

The war has dragged even the notorious Abu Sayyaf and a number of armed groups and Moro residents into the frays, who were depressed at the sight of their houses and buildings of significance indiscriminately razed to the ground and the pitiful build-up of civilian casualties due to daily bombings of FA 50s and OV-10s! The war has not dissolved but on the contrary converged all the antigovernment forces into a united stand against whom they perceived as the oppressors and attackers. Marawi City, the Moro people’s center of culture and commerce is now almost a complete wreck.

Martial law is the vehicle used by Duterte on the pretext of antiterrorism to crush the extant dreams of the Moro people for their right to self-determination. Destruction of Marawi is almost complete with debris of destroyed buildings and houses strewn all over setting the last straw that breaks the camel’s back on the Moro people. It has pushed the middle-of -the-road to choose which side they are on. It has set the demarcation line between combatants and non-combatants. It has pushed the nonaligned parties to bite the bullet and side with the dissidents whom they perceived as the oppressed and underdog and in the perception of defending their homeland. Thus the AFP was surprised to find that what was just a simple plan of apprehending Isnilon Hapilon has turned into a quasi-people’s war in Marawi City.

The conflict in Marawi has its beginning on claims of ancestral lands and politics. This land conflict has evolved into a RIDO aggravated by local politics when the controversy of land ownership has not been settled with the Pansar family and the Maute. When the Maute’s adversary won in the mayoralty race of Butig, Pansar then connived and used the military to bully and harass the Maute brothers by bombing the town’s center and farming communities of Butig. This has roused anger of the town’s residents and adjacent vicinities’ to rally on the Maute’s side. In retaliation the Maute, a prominent family in Butig, Lanao Del Sur raided and occupied the municipality of Butig, a contiguous town of Marawi City in 2015. Thus began the not so long running conflict with the Mautes and the AFP which has initially traced its roots to land ownership, but that has now become a quasi-full-blown Moro people’s war of survival and defense of their homeland—- a favorable ground for the US forces’ continued presence in the Philippines and stir trouble to the veering Duterte onto the sides of Russia and China.

Duterte should realize hitherto that if he can’t eliminate the terrorist group which is confined only to a portion of Mindanao despite using his newly- acquired air assets and a sizable portion of his armed forces, how then could he defeat the revolutionary forces and people represented by the NDFP which is firmly rooted on a significant portion of the Philippine population and has its active presence felt in a significant portion of the Philippine territory? He should further realize that the martial law he had imposed in Mindanao and particularly in Marawi would in the end draw forces from the MILF and MNLF to the side of the dissidents who had ancestral/clan relations with the latter, thus bringing the war to a new level of armed resistance for their rights to carve their future freely.

If Duterte has that lawyer-ly acumen as he himself has persistently swaggered he should have realized by now that there is no other option but to delve on the root causes of the conflict. Physically exterminating the rebellious lots does not solve the problem. Just look at Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria and in several African countries! Despite the superiority of the US forces in air power and weapons technology, its supposedly war on terror in Afghanistan has dragged on for almost two decades now and still with no end in sight as evidenced by the Taliban’s capacity a few days later, just after the US has dropped its supposed “mother of all bombs” (MOAB) to the Taliban’s lair on Afghanistan’s countrysides, to retaliate and inflict 60 deaths on the mostly civilian populations. Superiority in weapons does not count much against a people waging guerrilla warfare.

He has even pretend to have no knowledge of the US participation in the Marawi siege but nevertheless thanked the US for its help. By conceding the assistance of US troops in the Marawi siege, allowing the continuance of Balikatan exercises, doing nothing to scrap Edca and other unequal agreements and filling his cabinet with CIA stooges, Duterte has made himself essentially a de facto ally of the US belying his previous anti-US stand.

Now is the high time for Duterte to make peace with the oppressed and exploited masses by ordering his negotiators to sign with the NDFP the comprehensive agreement on socio-economic reforms and consequently the PCR, convene a governing coalition like the Federal Republic of the Philippines which the NDFP is willing to cofound to settle the questions of territory, taxation, single government and other concerns.

He should also heed the demand of the people of Marawi to end the AFP aerial bombardment and to withdraw the AFP troops, order the US forces to leave, do away with CIA stooges and just allow the Moro people’s processes in resolving the raging local conflicts. Martial law is the ill-informed and ill-educated solution to the snowballing armed resistance of the people of Marawi for justice and right to self-determination. He should learn to “eat soup with a knife,” by knowing who really are his real enemies and real friends for his “war on terror” to succeed.

Having pursued these, history would enshrine him as the first GRP president to have attained a long and elusive peace with the revolutionary forces and masses including the Moro people.

CPP/NDF-CNL: On Eastern Visayas Regional Assembly

Christians for National Liberation/National Democratic Front propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Jul 6): On Eastern Visayas Regional Assembly

Renmin Malaya, Spokesperson
CNL National Executive Committee

6 July 2017

At the recent CNL 8th national congress the theme was “Persevere in attaining greater heights in the national democratic revolution with socialist perspective, intensify our participation in the people’s armed revolutionary struggle”.

We are so happy and grateful for the decision to come up with this historical milestone of CNL Eastern Visayas region that gave birth and contributed revolutionaries towards achieving the longed for national liberation. We salute CNL members from the region, both the living and the martyrs like Fr. Rudy Romano and Rev. Edison Lapuz for their heroic achievement of maintaining the correct line of struggle.

We need to address the minimal participation and support of the church sector both for armed revolution and open democratic mass movement. However, let us acknowledge and correct the current trend in our method of revolutionary work especially the slow recruitment process hence the minimal increase in membership. At the national congress , it was found out the need and put emphasis to increase our ranks among Roman Catholic lay, priests and nuns which in the past contributed greatly to the advancement of the revolution.

Let us enhance ecumenical partnerships from various faith denominations in the region to increase CNL membership. There is a need also to address our weaknesses by coming up a CNL EV summing-up of its revolutionary work in the past 15 years, identify our errors, derive lessons that will guide our aspiration to attain “greater heights in the national democratic revolution”….

We hope that this regional assembly will energize the EV-CNL members to follow the tradition of the martyrs and CNL heroes who have sacrificed and gone before us. In their honor we pledge our commitment and allegiance to the moral emancipation of the poor.

CPP/Ang Bayan: Ma­ri­ing la­ba­nan ang mga kontra-na­syu­nal at kontra-ma­ma­ma­yang pa­ta­ka­ran ng re­hi­meng Du­ter­te

Ang Bayan Editorial posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Jul 7): Ma­ri­ing la­ba­nan ang mga kontra-na­syu­nal at kontra-ma­ma­ma­yang pa­ta­ka­ran ng re­hi­meng Du­ter­te

Ang Bayan, Editorial
Communist Party of the Philippines

7 July 2017

Sa­sa­lu­bu­ngin ng ma­la­la­kas na pro­tes­tang ba­yan at ma­la­la­king pag­ki­los ng mga mang­ga­ga­wa, mag­sa­sa­ka, ma­ra­li­tang lun­sod, ka­tu­tu­bo, ma­ma­ma­yang Mo­ro at iba pang de­mok­ra­ti­kong uri ang pangalawang SONA (sta­te of the na­ti­on address o ta­lum­pa­ti sa ka­la­ga­yan ng ban­sa) ni Pres. Rodrigo Du­ter­te ng GRP sa Hul­yo 24.

Ku­mu­ku­lo ang na­ti­pong ga­lit ng ma­la­wak na sam­ba­ya­nan sa isang ma­pag­kun­wa­ring re­hi­men na tu­ma­li­kod sa kan­yang mga pa­nga­ko at ma­li­naw na tumutungo sa pa­gi­ging kontra-ma­ma­ma­yan, lan­tay pa­sis­ta, at sunud-sunuran sa US. Hin­di gu­mi­gin­ha­wang pa­mu­mu­hay at lu­ma­la­lang pa­nu­nu­pil: ito ang tu­nay na ka­la­ga­yan ng ban­sa.

Kai­la­ngang big­yang di­rek­syon ng mga re­bo­lu­syo­nar­yong pwer­sa ang ga­lit ng ma­ma­ma­yan pa­ra sa pag­gi­it ng in­te­res ng ba­yan at pag­si­ngil sa re­hi­meng Du­ter­te. Big­ki­sin si­la sa isang ma­la­pad na al­yan­sa ng mga mang­ga­ga­wa, mag­sa­sa­ka, mga ka­tu­tu­bo, ma­ma­ma­yang Mo­ro at sa iba pang sek­tor ng li­pu­nan tu­lad ng mga per­so­na­he at taong-sim­ba­han, mga na­sa aka­dem­ya, mas­mid­ya, iba pang pro­pe­syu­nal at mga ne­go­sya­nteng ma­ka­ba­yan.

Ipag­la­ban ang mga ba­ta­yang ka­ga­li­ngan at ka­ra­pa­tan ng ma­sang anak­pa­wis. Da­pat la­mang na igi­it ng mga mang­ga­­ga­wa ang pag­wa­wa­kas sa kontraktwa­li­sa­syo­n, pag­ka­ka­ro­on ng ma­ti­no at ti­yak na tra­ba­ho, pag­ta­as ng sa­hod, ka­lig­ta­san sa lu­gar ng pag­ga­wa, at pag­ti­gil sa pa­ta­ka­ran ng pag-eksport ng pag­ga­wa. Da­pat ding itu­lak ng mga mag­sa­sa­ka ang ka­hi­ngi­an sa lu­pang sa­ka­han at ng ma­ra­li­tang lun­sod sa di­sen­teng tra­ba­ho’t pa­ba­hay. Da­pat ding igi­it ng mga ka­tu­tu­bo ang ka­ti­ya­kan sa ka­ni­lang lu­pang ni­nu­no at ka­ra­pa­tan sa sa­ri­ling pag­pa­pa­sya la­ban sa mga pro­yek­tong ine­eng­gan­yo ni Du­ter­te na ma­ra­mi­hang mag­ta­ta­boy sa ka­ni­la mu­la sa lu­pa. Igi­it ang pag­ki­la­la at pag­ga­lang sa ka­ra­pa­tan sa sa­ri­ling-pag­pa­pa­sya ng ma­ma­ma­yang Mo­ro.

Sa ila­lim ng kan­yang ma­kada­yu­hang neo­li­be­ral na 10-pun­tong prog­ra­mang so­syo­-e­ko­no­mi­ko, la­long lu­ma­la­la ang do­mi­na­syon ng im­per­ya­lis­mong US at lo­kal na nag­ha­ha­ring ma­la­la­king kumprador, asen­de­ro at bu­ruk­ra­tang ka­pi­ta­lis­ta sa li­pu­nang Pi­li­pi­no.

Anu­mang na­ta­ma­sang pa­ki­na­bang ng ma­ma­ma­yan ni­tong na­ka­ra­ang taon ay bunga pangunahin ng ka­ni­lang mga pa­ki­ki­ba­ka at su­por­ta ng mga prog­re­si­bo sa loob at la­bas ng gub­yer­nong Du­ter­te. Ang mga kontraktwal na mang­ga­ga­wa ay na­ging re­gu­lar da­hil sa kanilang mga wel­ga o sa­ma-sa­mang pag­ki­los at pa­ki­ki­ba­ka ng un­yon sa col­lective bar­gai­ning. Nag­ka­ro­on ng ba­hay ang mga ma­ra­li­tang lun­sod sa sa­ma-sa­mang oku­pa­syon sa na­ka­ti­wang­wang at na­bu­bu­lok nang pa­ba­hay sa Bulacan. Ma­ging ang ilang ba­ha­gi ng mga as­yen­da at plan­ta­syong na­pa­ki­na­ba­ngan ng mga mag­sa­sa­ka ay na­pa­sok ni­la sa pa­ma­ma­gi­tan ng ngi­pin-sa-ngi­ping la­ban ka­hit ang mga ito ay iti­nak­da na ng ba­tas pa­ra sa ka­ni­la.

Kun­de­na­hin ang pa­ma­ma­ha­lang ka­may-na-ba­kal at ipag­tang­gol ang ka­ra­pa­tan ng ma­ma­ma­yan la­ban sa pa­nu­nu­pil. Da­pat isi­gaw ang pag­ti­gil sa to­do-ge­ra ng Oplan Ka­pa­ya­pa­an na nag­wa­wa­si­was ng pa­sis­tang ka­ra­ha­san la­ban sa re­bo­lu­syo­nar­yong ki­lu­san at ma­ma­ma­yan sa ka­na­yu­nan. Igi­it ang pag-aa­lis ng ba­tas mi­li­tar sa Min­da­nao, pagtigil sa pam­bo­bom­ba sa Ma­ra­wi at ma­ba­ngis na pag­sug­po sa pa­ki­ki­ba­kang Mo­ro pa­ra sa sa­ri­ling-pag­pa­pa­sya. Si­ngi­lin ang gub­yer­no ng hus­ti­sya pa­ra sa mga bik­ti­ma ng ka­ra­ha­san ng AFP at PNP at dan­yos sa na­pin­sa­lang ma­ma­ma­yan at ka­ni­lang mga ari-a­ri­an du­lot ng pam­bo­bom­ba at pan­da­ra­has ng AFP sa Ma­ra­wi at iba pang ba­ha­gi ng Min­da­nao.

Da­pat kun­de­na­hin ang lan­sa­kang pag­la­bag sa mga ka­ra­pa­tang-tao at si­bil at pag­si­ra ng GRP sa usa­pang pang­ka­pa­ya­pa­an sa NDFP. Ilan­tad at la­ba­nan ang ma­du­gong ge­ra kontra-dro­ga. Hi­git sa la­hat, la­ba­nan ang nag­ba­bad­yang ban­ta ng pag­ha­ha­ring mi­li­tar sa buong Pi­li­pi­nas. Nag­bi­gay ng pu­wang ang re­bo­lu­syo­nar­yong ki­lu­san upang pa­tu­na­yan ni Du­ter­te ang ma­bu­ting in­ten­syon sa isang di-por­mal na al­yan­sa pa­ra sa ka­pa­ya­pa­an at kaun­la­ran ng ba­yan, ba­tay sa ha­los tat­long de­ka­dang pa­ki­ki­pag­kai­bi­gan ni­ya sa re­bo­lu­syo­nar­yong ki­lu­san sa Min­da­nao noong al­kal­de pa si­ya ng Davao City.

Ser­yo­so ang re­bo­lu­syo­nar­yong ki­lu­san na na­ki­ki­pag-u­sa­pang pang­­­­ka­pa­ya­pa­an. Nag­pa­ki­ta ito ng ka­bu­ti­hang-lo­ob nang pinalawig hang­gang anim na bu­wan ang pan­sa­man­ta­lang uni­la­te­ral na ti­gil-pu­tu­kan (Agos­to 2016–Peb­re­ro 2017), ang pi­na­ka­ma­ta­gal sa ka­say­sa­yan ng re­bo­lu­syo­nar­yong ki­lu­san. Su­ba­lit pi­na­tu­tu­na­yan ng apat na round ng usa­pang pang­ka­pa­ya­pa­an na in­te­re­sa­do la­mang ang GRP sa pag­su­ko ng BHB sa pa­ma­ma­gi­tan ng pag­pi­lit ng ka­sun­du­ang bi­la­te­ral cea­sefi­re at hin­di sa pag­lu­tas sa ugat at mga da­hi­lan ng ge­ra si­bil sa Pi­li­pi­nas.

Ang pag­pa­pai­la­lim ng buong Min­da­nao sa batas militar at ang nau­na pang dek­la­ra­syon ng to­do-ge­ra la­ban sa mga re­bo­lu­syo­nar­yong pwer­sa ka­sa­bay ng pag­pa­pa­ga­nit sa usa­pang pang­ka­pa­ya­pa­an ay ma­li­wa­nag na in­di­ka­syon ng pa­gi­ging su­nud-su­nu­ran ng gub­yer­nong Du­ter­te sa im­per­ya­lis­mong US. Gi­na­ga­mit ng AFP ang ba­tas mi­li­tar sa Min­da­nao upang la­long ma­kab­we­lo ang ma­ba­ngis na to­do-ge­ra” at “pag­pa­tag ng bun­dok” ni Du­ter­te la­ban sa re­bo­lu­syo­nar­yong pwer­sa sa Min­da­nao at pa­la­wa­kin ito sa Vi­sa­yas at Luzon. Tu­nay na tar­get ng ba­tas mi­li­tar na ito ang lu­ma­la­kas na re­bo­lu­syo­nar­yong ar­ma­dong pa­ki­ki­ba­ka at ang mu­ling su­mik­lab na ar­ma­dong pa­ki­ki­ba­kang Mo­ro pa­ra sa sa­ri­ling pag­pa­pa­sya.

Hi­bang ang ma­du­gong kam­pan­yang kontra-dro­ga ni Du­ter­te. Tu­ma­tar­get ito sa ka­ra­ni­wang gumagamit at nagtutulak ng droga ha­bang lib­re ang ma­la­la­king drug­lord at utak ng mga sin­di­ka­tong kri­mi­nal na na­sa AFP-PNP at bu­ruk­ra­sya. Tam­pok din ang pag­ga­mit ng te­ro­ris­mo ng es­ta­do la­ban sa li­gal na de­mok­ra­ti­kong ki­lu­san at mga re­bo­lu­syo­nar­yo at ibang mga li­gal na opo­si­syo­n.

Ka­sa­bay ng ma­la­wa­kang ha­yag na pag­ki­los la­ban sa tu­mi­tin­ding pa­nu­nu­pil, da­pat paig­ti­ngin ang ar­ma­dong pa­ki­ki­ba­ka upang ipag­tang­gol ang re­bo­lu­syo­nar­yong pwer­sa at ma­ma­ma­yan la­ban sa ba­tas mi­li­tar at pa­sis­mo. Da­pat mag­sa­ga­wa ng mga tak­ti­kal na open­si­ba ang BHB sa buong ban­sa at hi­git na pa­la­ka­sin ang Ba­gong Huk­bong Ba­yan sa iba’t ibang ba­ha­gi ng ka­pu­lu­an.

Si­ngi­lin si Du­ter­te sa kan­yang mga bu­la­das ng nag­sa­sa­ri­ling pa­ta­ka­rang pan­la­bas. Igi­it ang kag­yat na pag­ba­ba­su­ra sa Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement at iba pang di-pantay na kasunduang militar. Ang mga an­ti-US na pam­bo­bo­la ni Du­ter­te ay na­ka­tu­on la­mang sa pag­pa­pa­la­wak ng ma­pag­ku­ku­nan ng utang at ar­mas sa Chi­na at Rus­sia at hin­di sa pag­lan­sag sa do­mi­na­syon ng US sa ban­sa. Wala ni isa sa mga di-pan­tay ng tra­ta­do sa US ang pi­na­wi ni Du­ter­te. Na­na­na­ti­li sa lu­pa ng Pi­li­pi­nas ang tro­pang mi­li­tar nito. Tuluy-tuloy ni­lang itinata­yo ang di-ku­ku­la­ngin sa anim na pa­si­li­dad-mi­li­tar sa loob ng mga kam­po ng AFP, inilu­lun­sad ang 257 pag­sa­sa­nay mi­li­tar at nagpapa­la­yag ng mga bar­ko de ge­ra ng US sa ka­ra­ga­tan ng Pi­li­pi­nas sa pa­tu­loy na pag­mi­li­ta­ri­sa sa South Chi­na Sea.

Pi­na­hin­tu­lu­tan ni Du­ter­te ang pag­li­pad ng mga spy dro­ne at P3-Ori­on spy aircraft ng US pa­ra sa elektro­ni­kong sar­bey­lans, pag-i­pon ng mga im­por­ma­syong pa­nik­tik, at pag­su­por­ta sa ope­ra­syong kom­bat ng AFP, la­lu­na sa Ma­ra­wi. Na­ka­bus­lo nga­yon ang kan­yang ge­rang “kontra-te­ro­ris­mo” sa pan­da­ig­di­gang ge­ra la­ban sa te­ro­ris­mo ng US. Sa ga­yon, la­long bu­mub­we­lo ang pa­ki­kia­lam ng US sa mga pan­lo­ob na usa­pin sa ban­sa. Na­gi­ging ka­sa­pa­kat si­ya ng say-ops ng US sa pag­pay­pay ng Isla­mop­ho­bia, ge­rang re­li­hi­yon at mul­to ng ISIS sa Pi­li­pi­nas. Nai­tu­tu­lak at nai­hu­hul­ma ng US sa kan­yang gus­to ang pag­ka­hi­lig ni Du­ter­te sa pag­ha­ha­ring ka­may-na-ba­kal.

Hi­git na pi­na­lu­lub­ha ni Du­ter­te ang pan­li­pu­nang kri­sis ng ma­la­ko­lon­yal at ma­lap­yu­dal na sis­te­ma ng Pi­li­pi­nas. Sa ma­lao’t ma­da­li ay si­sik­lab ang kri­sis pam­pu­li­ti­ka. Sa git­na ng nag­pa­pa­tu­loy na pag­lub­ha ng kri­sis sa li­pu­nan at eko­nom­ya ng Pi­li­pi­nas at ng ma­ta­gal nang dep­re­syon ng pandaigdigang sis­te­mang ka­pi­ta­lis­ta, wa­lang ibang ma­su­su­li­ngan ang ma­ma­ma­yan kun­di ang ma­ki­ba­ka at isu­long ang ka­ni­lang pam­ban­sa-de­mok­ra­ti­kong ad­hi­ka­in at ang mag­lun­sad ng pa­pa­la­kas na mga pa­ki­ki­ba­kang ma­sa.

4 killed in Sayyaf clash in Sulu province

From the Mindanao Examiner (Jul 8): 4 killed in Sayyaf clash in Sulu province

Three Abu Sayyaf militants and a soldier were killed and 15 more wounded in fresh battle Saturday in the southern Philippine province of Sulu, officials said.

While insisting that troops killed 3 militants, officials admitted only one body was recovered by soldiers in Patikul town. The wounded soldiers, mostly from the 21st Infantry Battalion, were brought to the main military base in Jolo town for medical treatment.

Officials said the militants were led by Almujer Yaddah, whose group freed 2 kidnapped Filipino fishermen Reyjim Rocabo, 41 and Roel Leones, 37, on Friday. The duo was recovered by soldiers and provided the military with information about Yaddah’s hideout in Patikul town.

The fishermen said Yaddah’s group is still holding several hostages. Both Rocabo and Leones were crewmembers of FB Ramona 2 kidnapped in December 20 last year in the Celebes Sea. Their ship captain, Noel Besconde, was beheaded on April 13 by the Abu Sayyaf after his employer and family failed to pay ransom. Another crewman, Roy Ramos, was freed in June in Talipao town.

The Abu Sayyaf, which is still holding 16 foreigners and four other Filipinos, recently beheaded 2 Vietnamese sailors after their government and families failed to pay ransom.

Explosive, arms seized from wanted BIFF leader

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 8): Explosive, arms seized from wanted BIFF leader

A sub-commander of the outlawed Moro armed group eluded arrest during police and military operations in Datu Hofer town, but authorities seized high powered guns and grenade from his residence, police said.

Senior Supt. Agustin Tello, Maguindanao police director, said lawmen armed with search warrants for murder, multiple murder, bombings and extortion when they raided the house of Kareem Falcon, alias Commander Falcon, in Barangay Tuayan, Datu Hofer town in Maguindanao Saturday dawn.

But the suspect was not in his home when the lawmen swooped down at past 4 a.m.

Tello said the raiding team recovered a hand grenade, an improvised Armalite rifle, magazine and ammunition from Falcon’s home. Two sachets of suspected shabu were also recovered, Tello said.

Tello said Falcon was involved in a rash of killings, robbery and extortion in Maguindanao, preying even on poor Muslim villagers during harvest season.

The police official said Falcon was the leader of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) who simultaneously fired rocket propelled grenades towards the Maguindanao provincial police office that left a civilian slightly injured last May.

Speaking to reporters, Tello said Falcon has also separate warrant of arrest for his alleged involvement in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre in Ampatuan, Maguindanao that left 58 people killed, including 30 journalists.

He may have eluded arrest but police filed charges for illegal possession of firearms and explosives and illegal drugs so another warrant will be out for him.

Meanwhile, another band of BIFF briefly clashed Saturday afternoon with government forces in Barangay Kilalan, Talitay, Maguindanao, an Army spokesperson said.

Capt. Arvin John Encinas, speaking for the 6th Infantry Division, said elements of the Army’s 603rd Infantry Brigade clashed with the BIFF forces under a certain Commander Abunawas.

Nobody was injured in the clash but the Army believed it prevented the BIFF from getting closer to the national highway to conduct atrocities against government forces or civilian commuters.

Marawi battle nears end

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 8): Marawi battle nears end

The fighting in this embattled city is expected to be over soon as the Islamic State for Iraq and Syria (ISIS)-inspired Maute and Abu-Sayyaf groups have been significantly reduced to at least 80 members as of Saturday, July 8, the military said.
“The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is committed to ensure that Maute and Abu Sayyaf will not be able to pose a threat,” Herrera said, noting that the military will still continue to pound the enemy positions in the area.

On Saturday, several fighting planes, including the country’s newest jets, conducted bomb runs from dawn to noon.

Herrera said there are about 80 high-rise buildings that the military is trying to clear.

He said terrorist leader Abdullah Maute is “still in command” and “foreign terrorists are still there” in the area.

The death toll has been continually increasing since the armed conflict erupted on May 23. At least 366 terrorist have been killed, while government troopers suffered 87 casualties.

There are 39 civilians have also been executed by the Maute group.

On Friday, the military extracted four more civilians in the battle zone bringing the total number of rescued civilians to 1,022.

The rescue efforts are also being conducted by the Joint Coordination, Monitoring and Assistance Center of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front under the “Peace Corridor” initiative.

Herrera said the troops are now zeroing in the area where the terrorists are being holed up.

“We have established defensive positions against the Maute,” he said.

For his part, Zia Alonto-Adiong, the spokesperson of the Lanao del Sur crisis management committee, said measures are being drawn up for the massive rehabilitation of the besieged city.

“There is a need to provide soft financial packages for house loans and also to provide the needed capital for the local traders since the crisis have significantly affected the local economy of this city,” he said.

Adiong also bats to strengthen the teaching of moderate Islam to prevent individuals from the joining extremist group.

“There's a need to expand Mandaris system. Military approach will not end the problem, it has to be collective efforts from all sectors,” he said.

According to him, the local government is already in talks with several non-government organizations to help address the root cause of conflict.