6 foreigners among terrorists killed in Marawi – AFP

But the military insists this 'does not confirm the clear presence of ISIS' in the Philippines

by Bea Cupin

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The Philippine government on Friday, May 26, said foreigners were among the Maute Group and Abu Sayyaf Group members fighting government troops in Marawi City.

“Malaysian, Indonesians from Singapore and other foreign jihadists,” said Solicitor General Jose Calida in a press conference with Palace officials and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Davao City.

Calida, in explaining why President Rodrigo Duterte had declared martial law over the entire Mindanao island region, said: “What’s happening in Mindanao is no longer a rebellion of Filipino citizens. It has transmogrified into invasion by foreign terrorists who heeded the clarion call of the ISIS to go to the Philippines if they find difficulty in going to Iraq or Syria.”

AFP spokesman Brigadier General Restituto Padilla, who was also at the press conference, confirmed that of the 31 alleged Maute Group members killed in clashes with government troops, 6 had been identified as foreigners.

Martial law was declared over Mindanao on May 23, following what the military said was a surgical strike against Abu Sayyaf Group leader Isnilon Hapilon, who is believed to have pledged allegiance to ISIS. (READ: Making sense of Duterte's martial law)

Critics said the clashes in Marawi did not merit a Mindanao-wide coverage of martial law and that President Rodrigo Duterte is merely using the conflict as basis for imposing tougher measures and silencing dissent.

On May 23, at least 3 fires broke out in Marawi City. Residents have since fled the city as government troops continue to hold clearing operations. (READ: He watched Maute Group kill a cop, then he escaped)

Padilla would only confirm the presence of Indonesian and Malaysian fighters and refused to say how many of each nationality were identified as those killed in Marawi.

The AFP spokesman said the foreign nationals had been residing in the Philippines for “a long time.” “Some have been helping, teaching, aiding, and connecting [local terror groups],” he added.

But no ISIS?

Still, Padilla said that this does not equate to ISIS presence in the country. “Again, on the matter of ISIS the President emphasized that there's ISIS footprint but that does not confirm the clear presence of ISIS itself yet,” he told media in a chance interview.

But a terrorism expert warned the government against downplaying ISIS presence in the Philippines. The country is now the ISIS' epicenter in Southeast Asia, Rohan Gunaratna told Rappler. (WATCH: Admit ISIS presence in the Philippines

Members of the Maute Group, while breakaway elements of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), "are no longer Mautes" and "are no longer MILF," Gunaratna explained. "They are IS, because they are operating like IS, and they have changed the name," he said. "So we have to name them by the group they call themselves." – Rappler.com

 
 
 
 
 
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No basis for Philippines-wide martial law – senators

By Marvin Sy and Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star)

everal senators do not see any basis for President Rodrigo Duterte to impose martial law in the whole country as various personalities and groups have warned against possible repercussions of such a scenario. AP/Pavel Golovkin, File
MANILA, Philippines - Several senators do not see any basis for President Duterte to impose martial law in the whole country as various personalities and groups have warned against possible repercussions of such a scenario.

Under the Constitution, the President may only declare martial law in case of invasion or rebellion when public safety requires it. The effectivity of the declaration can only last for 60 days. It is also subject to review of Congress and the Supreme Court.

“I don’t see it,” Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said yesterday, referring to any basis for declaring martial law nationwide.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan said while they have given their “critical and guarded support” for the martial law declaration to neutralize the Maute group in Marawi City, “there exists no Visayas-wide nor a Luzon-wide invasion or rebellion to merit the declaration of martial law as allowed under our Constitution.”

Pangilinan said what is happening in the south could be isolated terrorist acts and they would oppose any plan to place the whole country under martial law.

He said martial law is not the solution to the problems of the country such as terrorism, poverty, unemployment and low wages.

Shortly after his arrival from his abbreviated trip to Russia, the President said he might expand the coverage of martial law to the entire country if violence spills over from Mindanao to the Luzon and Visayas regions.

Unstable

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, a former military officer and critic of Duterte, said the President could not be trusted with such a decision and that the Armed Forces of the Philippines could handle the crisis in Marawi City “with or without martial law.”

“Duterte’s erratic behavior is dangerous because a president has enormous powers. So imagine we give the powers of martial law to an unstable individual like Duterte, our country will be in jeopardy,” Trillanes said.

“If we give Duterte an opening, the next (declaration) will be for the entire country. He’s conditioning the minds of Filipinos that martial law is OK – no, that’s an extreme option,” he said.

Duterte, he said, is “pushing the boundaries of our people’s patience, the different institutions and various sectors to test the limits of his powers.”

He said it appeared that Duterte was “trigger-happy” in declaring martial law in Mindanao and has been “itching” to do so, as he did not wait for the Armed Forces to give an assessment or control the situation within a manageable period.

The senator said the President has been making major decisions without prudent consultations, as in the case of announcing the rejection of aid from the European Union.

World is watching

Former national security adviser Roilo Golez, for his part, pleaded with Duterte not to declare martial law in the entire country, saying the situation may escalate and he may lose the people’s support.

“With your indulgence, I offer my unsolicited advice as a citizen and taxpayer. There is no reason for that,” Golez said.

He strongly recommended that Duterte focus all his “strong leadership skills” in resolving the crisis in Marawi City and wipe out once and for all the Abu Sayyaf and the Maute group.

“We have to show the world that the government has the decisiveness and competence to solve this crisis very quickly. The world is watching us now. Please end this crisis fast so we can go back to normal, to business as usual, which is the objective of crisis management,” Golez said.

He said returning to normalization as soon as possible is clear in the National Security Council crisis management template.

“If the crisis escalates beyond Mindanao, that would mean a failure of the management of the Marawi crisis,” Golez said.

He said since the martial law declaration covers only Mindanao, the people in general are with Duterte.

“But an expansion beyond Mindanao I dare say would not generate the same public support and could even erode your popularity in Metro Manila, the rest of Luzon and most of the Visayas,” he said.

Golez said he fully supports the President’s Mindanao martial law proclamation and prays for his success in ending the crisis quickly and decisively.

Human rights advocates expressed alarm over Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said under martial law, the military will have “control of movement, searches and arrest of detained people, suspension of writ of habeas corpus.”

“Given the lawlessness of Duterte’s ‘war on drugs,’ in which the police and their agents have been implicated in the cold-blooded killing of more than 7,000 suspected drug dealers and users, military restraint in Mindanao may be wishful thinking,” noted James Ross, legal and policy director at Human Rights Watch.

Earlier, Duterte was quoted as saying, “Martial law is martial law, ha. It will not be any different from what the (former) president, (Ferdinand) Marcos did. I’d be harsh.”

Ross said Duterte’s casual reference to the late dictator should be alarming, especially for Filipinos who lived through martial law under the late dictator.

“For nearly 10 years, beginning in 1972, Philippine security forces carried out massive arbitrary arrests and detention, torture and countless extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances for which very few were ever punished. The country’s downward spiral continued after martial law was lifted in 1981 until Marcos was overthrown in the 1986 ‘people power’ revolution.”

However, the group said Duterte faces one significant obstacle to becoming the next Marcos: the 1987 Constitution, which places restrictions on the imposition and conduct of martial law.

“Congress can revoke the martial law proclamation by a majority vote and the Supreme Court can rule on the factual basis for its declaration. Martial law can’t be used to suspend the Constitution, the courts or the legislature, and military courts can’t try civilians if the civil courts function. Anyone arrested must be charged before a judge within three days or be released,” Ross said.

But he cautioned “words on paper are just that” and in the coming days and weeks, “(we) will see if the Philippine Congress and courts are up to the task of keeping a wildly abusive President in check. Since Duterte took office nearly a year ago, they haven’t been.”

The group Karapatan urged Duterte to lift the martial law declaration, saying the nation “has gone through the monstrosities of martial law” and repeating it will inevitably worsen rights abuses.

“There are inviolable rights that cannot be foregone, regardless of place, time or context. But despite such safeguards, martial law is a Pandora’s box that will give way to systematic rights violations. Just like in the time of Marcos, these violations will be justified under the blanket of ‘security,’ ‘protection’ and ‘national interest,’” it said.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros said allowing civilians to carry firearms outside their homes to protect themselves or for whatever reason would cause more problems than solutions.

Reacting to the statement made by Duterte about having civilians, particularly those living in Mindanao, armed in public was something that should not be taken lightly.

“If you allow civilians to take up arms then you will only worsen our problems with private armies and warlords,” Hontiveros said.

“This would also add to our problem with the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, which the PNP said has contributed to the rising cases of firearms-related crimes and violent incidents,” she added.

Rather than helping address the problems, Hontiveros said that such declarations by the President would only do more harm.

“His chopsuey declarations and proclamations create more chaos than order,” Hontiveros said.

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, Senators Panfilo Lacson, Gregorio Honasan, Sonny Angara and Francis Escudero were not as alarmed and would like to wait for further developments.

Like Hontiveros, however, Escudero cautioned Duterte against allowing civilians in Mindanao to openly carry their licensed firearms to defend themselves. – With Rhodina Villanueva

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Leftists warn of more EJKs following martial law declaration in Mindanao

 

 

Leftist groups warned on Thursday of more extrajudicial killings following the declaration of martial law over the whole of Mindanao, with President Rodrigo Duterte continuing to insist that the Maute Group, whose members are holed up in Marawi City, were involved in the illegal drug trade.

“With martial law now imposed in Mindanao and possibly other parts of the country, we are bracing for a new wave of extrajudicial killings both of drug-suspects and suspected rebels and terrorists,” former Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño said in a statement.

Casiño cited the country’s past experience under the martial law regime of President Ferdinand Maqrcos, where many were killed, disappeared, tortured and incarcerated.

“If police, military and related vigilante and paramilitary groups are now conducting extrajudicial killings with impunity, with more than 7,000 victims reported and counting, what more under martial law, where they will be given even more power to curtail our rights?” he said.

Anti-martial law veteran campaigner Sr. Mary John Mananzan said parameters and actual implementation of martial law should be clearly delineated.

“Must it be the whole of Mindanao?” she said. “It can occasion a lot of human rights abuses.”

Casiño and Mananza are among the organizers of Rise Up for Life and Rights, a network of groups and individuals planning the June 12 “Stop the Killings, Defend Human Rights” and “Day of Prayer and Action” rally in Manila.

The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, for its part, opposed any attempt to widen the scope of martial law to include the entire Philippines.

“There is no basis for such a declaration,” Renato Reyes, Bayan secretary-general said. “President Duterte is exhibiting very disturbing fascist tendencies in his recent pronouncements.”

Bayan and its affiliate groups have accused the United States, pro-US officials in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and ultra-rightists in the Duterte administration for using the Maute-Islamic State threat as a “pretext to impose open fascist rule and justify foreign intervention in the guise of counter-terrorism.”

He said it was possible that the martial law would be used to scuttle the ongoing peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), either through armed provocations or by forcing the NDFP to accept an indefinite ceasefire without any meaningful socio-economic and political reforms.

“Duterte is playing a very dangerous game,” Reyes said. “We disagree with his assertion that iron-fisted rule will solve the problems in Mindanao. He must lift martial law now.”

Mindanao groups and Islamic secular organizations, on the other hand, scored the Maute Group and Islamic State sympathizers for the destruction and killings in Marawi and Lanao del Sur.

The Cotabato City-based Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG) said the Maute group’s “reign of terror” in Marawi “destroys the shared values of all men and women of goodwill all over the world.”

“Violent extremism has no place in Mindanao where people value respect for diversities, pluralism and multiculturalism as paths to sustainable peace. The violence in Marawi City is an assault against Islam as a religion of peace. The voice of reason and respect for the dignity of every human being as a shared value of the great religions of the world must prevail over few loud voices who threaten to destroy humanity and our way of life,” IAG said in a statement.

The Quezon City-based Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy (PCID) said the attacks were made “more heinous” as it occurred while the Muslim faithful were preparing for the holy month of Ramadan.

“Any act inciting to terror in the hearts of defenseless civilians, the destruction of places of worship and properties, the murder of innocent men, women, and children irrespective of one’s faith are all forbidden and detestable acts according to Islam,” Amina Rasul, PCID president, said in a statement. “Sowing terror through force and violence has always been an invalid means of attaining societal changes, and cannot be justified through faith or religion.”

“The Qur’an says: ‘If any one slays a person – unless it be as punishment for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew all people. And if any one saves a life, it would be as if he saved the lives of all people.’ (Surah 5, verse 32),” she added.

Like other groups, PCID also called on the government ensure that the declaration of martial law would not compromise the people’s lives and the principles of democracy. The IAG said the martial law in Mindanao “must be so deliberately designed and enforced to be sensitive and not fuel the historical injustice deeply felt by the Moro people.”

“PCID believes that the peaceful resolution of the armed conflict Marawi is needed, through tempered and calibrated responses that will prevent further casualties and damage to property and livelihoods,” Rasul said.

Rasul also said preventing violent extremism should be prioritized by the government and all sectors, and this could be done by addressing its roots.

“First and foremost, our government officials, particularly the elected leaders, should be accountable for good governance and rule of law as well as the deterioration of the peace and order condition in conflict affected communities of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao,” she said. “Without good governance and the rule of law, government cannot be effective in improving the socio-economic and political conditions of our people, and the delivery of basic services long denied in the Bangsamoro.”

The IAG said one way to address the the scourge of terrorism and violent extremism in Mindanao is to move the peace process forward.

“[It will be] the platform for people of goodwill to make their voices for peace heard and to build institutions that can address the root causes of terror and violence,” the group said. /atm

 

 

 

 

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Duterte asks Putin for loan to buy guns

 
 
 
 
MOSCOW – Despite the abrupt end to President Duterte’s visit to Moscow, the Philippines and Russia will continue to pursue greater cooperation, including possibly on military matters.

In a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mr. Duterte sought a “soft loan” from Russia to buy firearms, because the United States had canceled the Philippines’ planned purchase of US guns.

“I’m having problems with the IS (Islamic State). I come here to seek help,” Mr. Duterte said.

Mr. Duterte and Putin met at the Kremlin before Mr. Duterte flew back home to the Philippines to attend to terror attacks in Marawi City, which prompted him to put the entire Mindanao under martial law.

Putin himself had returned to Moscow from a trip Tuesday evening for the meeting with the Philippine President, his avowed admirer.

Mr. Duterte offered Putin friendship and said he wanted to establish strong bilateral relations with Russia, later assuring him that the Philippines was no longer under the thumb of the West.

“I have gone out of the ambit of the western influence. Nothing has happened ever since the occupation,” he said, referring to the Americans.

Putin, for his part, said the package of bilateral agreements between the Philippines and Russia, which had been prepared for Mr. Duterte’s visit, would still be signed.

While trade between their countries is low, it has been increasing by 25 percent, said the Russian president.

There are also many areas where they can cooperate, including on military matters, he said.

“And we have very many promising and interesting areas of cooperation, including on energy machine building, transport and infrastructure,” Putin added.

During their meeting, Mr. Duterte also explained the reason for his swift departure from the Russian capital, saying he had a problem with IS and had to go home to attend to the urgent matter.

Putin condoled with the Philippines for the loss of lives in the terror attack in Marawi and said he hoped it would be resolved soon with minimal losses and casualties.

He assured Mr. Duterte that he understood why he had to go home at once.

Putin also thanked Mr. Duterte for accepting the invitation to come to Russia.

Putin returned to Moscow from visiting another region in Russia on Tuesday to seize the chance to see the Philippine President in person.

He and Mr. Duterte were originally scheduled to meet on Thursday.

“Your Excellency, Mr. President, I’m so happy to see you in Moscow,” Putin said.

 

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Estrada doubles security in Manila

BY KENNETH HARE HERNANDEZ/The Manila Times

Mayor Joseph Estrada on Wednesday placed Manila under tight watch and ordered the police to set up checkpoints and conduct more patrols to ensure that the violence in Marawi City will not reach the city.

Estrada directed 4,600 Manila policemen to increase their patrol around Malacañang Palace and other government offices and major installation that could be targeted by extremist groups.

“To the Manileños, please rest assured that our law enforcement units are on guard to protect our city,” he said. “Remain calm but be vigilant. You have nothing to worry about as of this moment.”

Estrada directed Manila Police District Director Joel Coronel to use all available assets to preserve peace and order and thwart any attempts by lawless elements to sow chaos or terror.

Coronel said Malacañang is ringed with security checkpoints. Foot and mobile patrols are being held in coordination with the Presidential Security Group (PSG).

“We are on full alert to prevent the incident from Marawi City to spill over in Metro Manila. There might be diversionary actions so we have to prepare for it,” he said.

Coronel added that 300 more policemen will be deployed to secure the observance of the holy month of Ramadan which will start on May 27.

Anti-riot policemen were also stationed at the US Embassy and at the Supreme Court in Ermita to counter possible mass actions by militant organizations.

Terror attacks had hit the city of Manila in the past. In December 2000, terrorists bombed Plaza Ferguson in Malate and an LRT-1 coach that left 22 people dead.

Recently, three bombing incidents occurred in Quiapo but authorities said the explosions were not terror-related.

Remain calm
Makati Mayor Abby Binay also on Wednesday called on her constituents to remain calm and vigilant amid the conflict in Marawi City and the declaration of martial law in Mindanao.

“It should be business as usual in the country’s financial center,” Binay said.

The mayor expressed solidarity with those affected by the recent violence in Marawi.

“Our prayers go out to our brothers and sisters in Mindanao,” she said.

The mayor ordered the Makati Police Department to undertake precautionary measures to keep Makati and its people safe.

“I am directing the Makati police to take the needed steps to ensure the safety of the city and its citizens,” she said.

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78 'hostages' rescued in Marawi hospital – military

The military declares facilities previously occupied by local terror groups – including the Amai Pakpak Medical Center – 'cleared of Maute presence'

Carmela Fonbuena

ILIGAN CITY, Philippines – Up to 78 civilians were held captive by the Maute Group inside the Amai Pakpak Medical Center on Tuesday, May 23, when the local terrorist group occupied the public hospital.

All were rescued, according to the military with the hospital declared "cleared of Maute presence" on Wednesday, May 24.

"At 3:00 pm today, the Amai Pakpak Hospital where Maute members accordingly occupied and held captive some 78 civilians was already declared cleared of Maute presence," said Captain Jo-Ann Petinglay, spokesman of the Western Mindanao Command.

More civilians were rescued in other facilities attacked by the Maute Group on Tuesday, estimated to be a total of 120 civilians.

Others were not as lucky. At least 4 residents, including a priest, were reportedly taken by the terrorist group. (READ: Marawi bishop: Priest, 4 others held hostage by Maute)

The Maute Group killed a cop and a security guard, and then took hostages – 8 patients, 49 construction workers, and 21 hospital staff – on Tuesday when they forced hospital staff to treat two of their wounded colleagues.

Rappler sources said they left the hospital late evening on Tuesday as clashes with the military raged.

In Dansalan College, one of the buildings where fire broke out, they rescued up to 42 teachers who were trapped. It was also declared "clear of Maute presence" Wednesday afternoon.

Five soldiers and 13 members of the terror groups were killed in the clashes, based on military reports. Up to 31 soldiers were wounded.

Clashes erupted on Tuesday as the military moved to hunt down Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, who was spotted in Marawi City.

Hapilon, who reportedly has direct links to international terrorist group Islamic State (ISIS), joined the Maute Group in Lanao Del Sur supposedly to establish an Islamic caliphate in Central Mindanao. – Rappler.com

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CHR tells government: Uphold human rights despite martial law

By Janvic Mateo (philstar.com)

A Muslim woman passes by policemen at a checkpoint in downtown Manila, Philippines, Wednesday, May 24, 2017 as the Philippine National Police is placed under full alert status following the declaration of martial law in Mindanao, southern Philippines. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte warned Wednesday that he'll be harsh in enforcing martial law in his country's south as he abruptly left Moscow to deal with a crisis at home sparked by a Muslim extremist siege on a city, where militants burned buildings overnight and are feared to have taken hostages. AP/Aaron Favila
MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Human Rights on Wednesday urged the government to uphold the human rights of all Filipinos following the declaration of martial law in Mindanao on Tuesday night.

“The President as Commander-in-Chief has vast powers to call out the armed forces to supress rebellion and lawless violence,” CHR chairman Chito Gascon told The STAR.

“The courts and legislative bodies can serve to determine if the prerogative was appropriately exercise. Human rights should be upheld at all times and CHR will continue to monitor,” he added.

In a separate statement, CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said they are monitoring the situation in Marawi City through the regional human rights commission of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

“We are with the nation in prayer for the safety of our brothers and sisters in Marawi as well as our security force. We are hopeful that the incident is contained, perpetrators are brought to justice and violence does no spread further,” she said.

“We urge the government to ensure that the rights of all Filipinos are upheld while addressing this humanitarian crisis in southern Philippines,” added De Guia.

She stressed that the 1987 Constitution enforces the respect for all civil liberties and assures the protection of human rights despite such declaration of martial law.

“The Philippine Congress – including civilian government institutions, such as civilian courts – shall remain in force and will continue with its functions towards ensuring proper checks and balance under this circumstance,” said De Guia.

“We call on our legislators to exercise due diligence and consideration in reviewing the merits of declaring Martial Law in Mindanao. Let us be reminded of the lessons of the 1972 declaration under a regime of a dictatorship – that we may never again repeat this dark past and continue to recognize the higher value of human dignity at all times,” she added.
Knee-jerk reaction

Meanwhile, the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) called on President Rodrigo Duterte to recall the declaration of martial law, saying it was an unnecessary knee-jerk reaction to the situation in Mindanao.

“The recent pronouncement made by the President that the martial law in Mindanao will be as harsh as Marcos’ martial law is a dangerous edict. The declaration of martial law should be an option of last resort and should be strictly within the bounds, requirements, and limitations of the Constitution,” NUPL secretary-general Ephraim Cortez said.

“Placing the entire Mindanao under martial law will open the flood gates for unbridled human rights violations and abuses. In the end, it is the civilian population who will be greatly affected. It gives blanket power and authority to conduct military crackdowns and operations that would result in the further diminution of the people’s constitutional rights,” he added.

The group said the recent incidents in Mindanao does not justify the declaration of martial law and that it is not an appropriate solution to the conflict.

They also urged Duterte to order the military not to resort to aerial bombings, mortar shelling, and other forms of military offensive that would endanger the lives of civilians and non-combatants in the affected areas.

For her part, former CHR chair Loretta Ann Rosales called the declaration of martial law as a short-sighted knee-jerk reaction from the president.

“This will result in more human rights violations and massive evacuation of civilians resulting in internally displaced persons, once they start bombing and strafing,” she said.

“Marawi City is one of several cities in Mindanao and in one province among 27. He should isolate the Maute forces within the area which is already militarized,” added Rosales.

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Sara Duterte sets guidelines for Davao City’s ‘hold-and-secure’ policy

City mayor says security restrictions are meant to prevent fresh attacks
By: Allan Nawal - Correspondent / @inqmindanaoInquirer Mindanao /

Sara Duterte sets guidelines for Davao City’s ‘hold-and-secure’ policyNews
DAVAO CITY – This city immediately enforced tighter security measures amid the attacks by armed groups in Marawi City to prevent diversionary or retaliatory attacks here, Mayor Sara Duterte said on Wednesday.

Mayor Duterte, who earlier announced a lockdown in the city and then a hold-and-secure strategy, said she and security officials had anticipated that terrorists would conduct diversionary or retaliatory attacks in the city, in the wake of the attacks by the Abu Sayyaf and Maute Group on Marawi City. The attacks had prompted her father, President Duterte, to declare martial law in Mindanao.

“We do not have specific info on any attack but it is not remote. If they want to divert attention, they would want to do it here because here is where the President lives. And also Davao City is the rallying point of Mindanao,” Duterte said.

“The possibility of a diversion or retaliation” is high, according to Mayor Duterte.

In September, at the height of the offensive against the Maute group in Lanao del Sur and the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu and Basilan, 15 people were killed when a bomb tore into the night market along Roxas Ave. here.

At least five suspected Maute group members had been arrested in the aftermath of the attack and all of them were under custody of authorities here.

“We have individuals under the control of authorities inside the city,” she said.

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte Carpio (INQUIRER FILE PHOTO)
Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte Carpio (INQUIRER FILE PHOTO)

Mayor Duterte said she and her security officials have decided to downgrade security measures from a lockdown, which she announced early Wednesday, to a hold-and-secure situation.

Under a lockdown, travel from and to the city would be prohibited.

“We have changed the situation in Davao from a lockdown to a hold-and-secure situation but we have come up with a set of guidelines for Dabawenyos waiting for the President to come home,” she told reporters.

She said some activities under the hold-and-secure situation would be restricted or discouraged.

Duterte said for one, authorities have advised Dabawenyos “to call 911 immediately if you see suspicious-looking persons, vehicles, materials or actions and especially meetings by individuals or strangers”

She said “travel to and from Davao city is discouraged unless it is urgent” and individuals should not be bringing with them large amounts of money.

“Do not leave your residences if you do not have business matters to attend to outside. Traveling in motorcycle convoys is also discouraged,” Mayor Duterte said.

She added that people should avoid wandering in public places and stay away from crowded areas. However, the night market and entertainment businesses would remain open, she said.

Duterte said religious activities have been encouraged to be conducted during daytime but Muslims, who break fast in the evening or attend night prayers during the Ramadan, have been asked to limit their
activities inside their houses, mosques or compound of mosques.

“They should also adopt the buddy system when they travel from and to their homes,” she said.

Duterte said rallies or protest activities would not be prohibited but organizers should secure permits from the city government.

“We will implement maximum tolerance for rallies. All rallies should have permits. If they do not want to apply for permits, they can conduct their rally at the Freedom Park (in front of Ateneo de Davao on Roxas Ave.)

Duterte has also discouraged parents from allowing their minor children to go out at night. Minors attending an important activity or event must be accompanied by adults, Duterte said.

For those on night shift, Duterte said they should be accompanied by relatives from and to their work places.

She informed the public to expect more police checkpoints in the city. She advised city residents to always be ready with their official identification, drivers’ and gun licenses, as well as vehicle registration papers.

“Ensure that you have updated vehicle registration papers and drivers licenses. Ensure that you have valid and existing licenses for your guns, your personal guns. You cooperate with the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) and the PNP (Philippine National Police) in the conduct of checkpoints,” she said.

“In the conduct of checkpoints, you turn off the headlights and turn on cabin lights (at night). Allow the inspectors to smoothly make their inspections. Don’t burden them (with protestations) if you have nothing to hide. If you are hiding something, don’t go out of your homes anymore,” she said.

She also advised individuals to “always bring valid IDs.”

Vehicles, she said, should not be left unattended for a very long time.

Businesses and schools have been discouraged to retain large sums of money and have been asked to invest in security plans.

“They are encouraged to create emergency plans ASAP. Invest in firefighting equipment and security,” she said.

Duterte said schools should also tightly screen guests and should not allow anybody in if their purposes were unclear.

Tourists, she said, have been discouraged from going into areas not identified as tourist destinations. They should also bring IDs with them all the time.

“These are our guidelines while we are waiting for the parameters that will be set by the Office of the President and the AFP with regards to Martial Law,” she said, adding that no arrests would be made unless a violation of existing laws occur. SFM

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Be not afraid, Robredo urges public amid Marawi clashes

By: Nikko Dizon - Reporter / @NikkoDizonINQPhilippine Daily Inquirer

Vice President Leni Robredo on Tuesday night urged the public not to be afraid and to stand their ground as fighting went on in Marawi City, which came under siege from terrorist groups that have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.

Robredo expressed full trust that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) would be able to resolve the situation soon.

President Duterte is on a trip to Russia with high-ranking officials of government, including the military top brass led by AFP chief of staff General Eduardo Año.

But the President, after declaring a 60-day martial law in Mindanao Tuesday night, has decided to cut short his Russia trip so he can fly home to deal with the crisis in Marawi.

AFP Vice Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Salvador Mison, Jr. and The Deputy Chief of Staff Vice Admiral Narciso Vingson, Jr. are in Manila.

In a statement in Filipino, Robredo said the AFP leadership “has given an assurance that they have the situation under control and that they could resolve it in the soonest possible time.”

Robredo called on the people to “pray for the soldiers who are fighting on behalf of our countrymen in Marawi.”

“Let us also pray for our fellow Filipinos who are caught in the middle of this firefight,” she said.

Robredo said that certainly, residents of Marawi would need immediate assistance.

The Vice President said she has directed her office to prepare for relief operations for the families affected by the incident.

“We are calling on all sectors with the capacity to help to provide whatever assistance they could the soonest possible time,” she said.

“Let us not be afraid. Let us stand our ground. And let us trust that peace will prevail,” the Vice President said.

Her statement in full:

“Together with the Filipino people, we have been monitoring the events that transpired in the City of Marawi. We are confident that the Armed Forces will soon resolve the situation.

“We have been in contact with the leadership of the AFP, and they have assured us that they are in control and that the conflict will be suppressed at the soonest possible time.

“We urge everyone to pray for our men and women who are protecting the people of Marawi. We also pray for our fellow Filipinos caught in the cross fire.

“We expect that this incident will soon end. In the wake of this conflict, help and support will be urgently needed for those affected. I have instructed my office to begin relief operations for those in need. We call on all sectors of society, who can extend assistance, to respond as soon as possible.

“Let us not be afraid. Let us be steadfast. Let us be assured that peace will prevail.”

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Pray for priest, other Maute hostages, CBCP urges public

By: Tina G. Santos - Reporter / @santostinaINQPhilippine Daily Inquirer

Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president Archbishop Socrates Villegas urged Filipino Catholics to pray for the safety of those taken hostage, including a priest, by the Maute terrorist group in Marawi City.

According to Villegas, Fr. Chito Suganob and others were in the Cathedral of St. Mary’s when members of the Maute fighting group forced their way into the Cathedral, taking with them Suganob and others as hostages.

“They have threatened to kill the hostages if the government forces unleashed against them are not recalled,” Villegas said in a statement.

Villegas said that Suganob, at time of his capture, was in the performance of his ministry as a priest.

“He was not a combatant. He was not bearing arms. He was a threat to none,” he said.

“His capture and that of his companions violates every norm of civilized conflict,” Villegas added.

“We beg every Filipino to pray fervently for Fr. Chito and for other hostages,” he added.

He appealed to the government forces to make the safety of the hostages a primordial consideration as they ensure that the law is upheld.

“We also call on the Maute group that claims to bear arms in the name of a Merciful and Benevolent God — the very same God we Christians worship and adore — to do the One God true honor by the mercy and benevolence that are two of our God’s most exalted attributes,” Villegas said.

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