Tuesday| May 30, 2017
THE government is in “full control” of the situation in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, a week after fire fight between the security forces and Maute group erupted in the city, a military spokesperson said Monday.
“We are in full control. Meaning to say, we can control who comes in and who comes out, who moves around and who doesn’t. And we’re trying to isolate all these pockets of resistance that have remained,” Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman Brigadier General Brigadier Restituto Padilla Jr. told reporters. This was Padilla’s statement a week after President Rodrigo Duterte placed Mindanao under martial law, in a bid to intensify fight against terrorists in the region, especially in Marawi City. Padilla belied reports that half of Marawi City is still being controlled by the ISIS-inspired terrorist group, citing assurance of ground commanders launching military offensives that the “end [of lawless acts in the city] is almost there.” “Although we do not have a timeline, we’re seeking to end this as soon as possible. Our ground commanders have assured that the end is almost there,” he said. “It is not true that half of the city is controlled by the rebels. Totally untrue. The police and all our armed forces are in complete control of the city, except for certain areas of the city where they (militants) continue to hold,” Padilla added. Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the military is determined to “clean Marawi of militants still operating in the area; rescue trapped residents; and recover civilian casualties and victims.” Padilla said the government troops will continue to heighten its security measures to ensure the safety and security of the public. “So that is our primordial concern:
To protect our people and keep the security in all these areas,” he said. Surgical airstrikes won’t inflict harm on civilians Padilla also guaranteed that no innocent civilians will sacrifice their lives as the military continues to launch surgical airstrikes on selected areas where the Maute militants holed up in Marawi City. “So if there are innocent lives, I guess at this point, I cannot answer you because we have not been able to inflict any harm on any civilians. That is why we call on them to work with us, to cooperate with us because we initially want them out before we do strike,” he said. His statement came amid fears of possible loss of civilian lives over aerial and artillery strikes against Maute group in the city. Padilla said air attack is necessary so as not to prolong the clearing process and put in danger the lives of both civilians and the military. “We do have the expertise, we do have the people to man equipment, and we have the equipment to do surgical airstrikes.
Please do not underestimate your soldiers. We have been into this fight longer than any country in this part of the world and anywhere else. And we have proven ourselves many times over,” the military spokesman said. “So if it calls for surgical airstrike of some sort, then we will try to make sure that we only aim for that particular point of resistance and nothing else. And we are capable of doing that. And in fact, we have been successfully doing that,” he added. Public cooperation needed Padilla also called on the public for their full cooperation, in order to bring back the normal lives in Marawi City, as well as in the entire Mindanao. He stressed that the “secret” to hasten the process in ending terrorism in the city is to secure civilians's coordination with the government.
“If the full cooperation of our citizens in the whole of Mindanao is obtained, then, we can expedite the process of securing Mindanao on a daily basis,” Padilla said. “Our call for people to cooperate should be 100 percent.” President Rodrigo Duterte has instructed the state forces to immediately end the terror acts that plagued Marawi City. ‘Gov’t assistance in place’ Meanwhile, Abella said the government is addressing the needs of affected families in the continuing clashes between government troops and terrorist groups.
Abella said there have been 12,509 families or 59,665 persons displaced in Northern Mindanao and Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Of the figures, around 1,018 families or 4,278 persons are still staying in 14 evacuations centers.
Abella said regional Social Welfare departments in Northern Mindanao and Soccsksargen have provided a total of P1,175,725 worth of assistance to affected families in ARMM. He said the Department of Trade and Industry also enforced a price freeze on basic necessities and prime commodities in Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, Davao Region, and Soccsksargen, effective for a period of 60 days or during the implementation of martial law in Mindanao.
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SOURCE: SUNSTAR, YOUTUBE