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Friday, June 30, 2017

The Mindanao Examiner Regional Newspaper July 3-9, 2017

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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Military unaware of ISIS prisoner swap demand

MARAWI CITY – The Philippine military said it was not aware of a deal offer by the local ISIS group in the besieged city of Marawi for a prisoner swap – a Catholic priest for the release of at least a dozen fighters, including the parents of the militant leaders facing rebellion charges.
Militants are holding Fr. Chito Suganob and dozens of civilians since May 23 after they launched a daring raid in Marawi and now they wanted Cayamora and Ominta Maute freed in exchange for the priest. The demand was reportedly relayed by Abdullah Maute, one the militant leaders, to a group of ulama sent by the government to talk to the militants.
Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, a military spokesman, said they have no information about the demand. The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines said it is up to the government to decide on the sensitive matter. But Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre said the government does not negotiate with terrorists.
The Western Mindanao Command also did not issue any statement on the ISIS demand and it was not immediately known whether Presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza is involved or secretly negotiating with the militants for the freedom of the hostages.
The militants also demanded that they be allowed to withdraw from Marawi. This was the same demand they made last month through Suganob who appealed on President Rodrigo Duterte to immediately withdraw thousands of soldiers from Lanao del Sur province.
Suganob made the appeal in a video that surfaced on Facebook and the 5-minute clip went viral on social media. In the video, Suganob, the Vicar General of the Marawi prelature, said militants seized him, along with other church workers, including children and adults, mostly Christians, when members of the Maute group attacked the city.
Behind the ruins of buildings destroyed in fierce clashes and the sound of sporadic gunfire, Suganob made an emotional appeal to Duterte to save all of them, saying, the militants are ready to die for their religion. He asked Duterte to stop military assaults, both in air and on the ground, and for security forces to quickly leave Marawi and Lanao del Sur, one of 5 provinces under the Muslim autonomous region.
Below is the transcript of Suganob’s appeal:
“Mr. President, I was taken as a prisoner of war together with one MSU female professor – the Mindanao State University – two lady church workers, two male teachers of Dansalan College Foundation Incorporated and five female teachers of Dansalan College Foundation Incorporated, along with us are about 200 carpenters, household helpers, children and youth and ordinary Christian settlers and other Subanon tribes with us as captives and as prisoners of war.
Mr. President, we are in the midst of this war, we are asking your help to please give what your enemies are asking for – this simply am not asking for anything just to withdraw your forces away from Lanao del Sur and Marawi City and to stop the air strikes, your air attacks and to stop the canons.
Mr. President, from out heart, please consider us. You know it is hard Mr. President from time to time we hear bursts of gunfire from the ground of your enemies, heavy firearms from your side, it’s hard. And Mr. President, we do not ask for anything, we just ask that you leave this place peacefully, do not give so much attack, the city in my background is ruined like this and Mr. President if you are in our place, you will really consider us because you’ll hear the outburst of gunfire and everything, bombs and canons. We are victims and Mr. President, if you have a good heart for us considering, Mr. President, about 240 prisoners of war are asking your good heart, please consider us, we want to live another day, we want live another month, we want to live few years, and in your heart, we know you can make something, they do not ask anything Mr. President after all this is their place give them the land and Mr. President, you are attacking from your heart, do not use violence because your enemies they are ready to die for their religion, they are ready to die and their laws will be followed in this place.
Mr. President you are from Mindanao, you know the conflict in Mindanao, you know the problems and I hope Mr. President you understand them. I am also saying these things Mr. President because you know the history; they have the right to live here, they have the right to their own laws be respected and Mr. President, you cannot use force because they have their commitments, they will die for this, they are ready to die for this, Mr. President we ask you please consider us, we are in the midst of war, we are victims, do not be happy Mr. President that we are the collateral damage of war, we are already victims of heavy gunfire for seven days.
Mr. President, if you want me to kneel before you just to have your heart in favor of our families, who are crying out there in different places, for our relatives and for those other 240, Mr. President we will do that. So Mr. President, I am asking you consideration.”
There were no signs troops were pulling out from the city as clashes continue without letup. The army claimed nearly 300 militants had been killed since the fighting began. But over a dozen civilians, mostly Christians, had been killed by militants as ground troops, backed by army tanks and air force planes, were searching for jihadists hiding in buildings and houses. (Mindanao Examiner)
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Sunday, June 25, 2017

Zambo man accused of murder arrested in Cavite province

ZAMBOANGA CITY – A 31-year old man accused of murder in Zamboanga City in Mindanao had been arrested in Imus City in Cavite province in Luzon where he was hiding.
Police said Roselinni Arcillas, a resident of Zambowood village, is the prime suspect in the brutal killing of 23-year old Maria Clariz Faylona, whose decomposing body was discovered April 9 at an abandoned building owned by the Universidad de Zamboanga in Pasonanca in Zamboanga City.
It said local policemen led by Chief Inspector Joseph Ortega and Superintendent Norman Ranon of the Imus police force arrested the suspect on June 23 and was brought to Zamboanga City to face criminal charges.
No other details were released by the authorities on the murder of Faylona or whether she had been raped or not. Arcillas did not give any statement on the charges against him. (Mindanao Examiner)
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Police seize P60 million worth of crystal meth in Zamboanga City


Police photos released to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner show suspected drug dealers and 3 kilos of crystal meth seized by authorities during a drug sting in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines on June 24, 2017.


ZAMBOANGA CITY – Police arrested 3 people and seized three kilos of crystal meth worth about P60 million in the southern Philippine port city of Zamboanga, officials said Monday.
Officials said policemen arrested the trio -  Almujir Sabtal, 29, a native of Luuk town in Sulu province; Carmin Maluddiny, 36; and Jimo Alijam, 26, both residents of Zamboanga City - at Vallerosa Subdivision in Sinunuc village.
Superintendent Nonito Asdai, whose unit was behind the weekend drug sting, said the illegal drugs allegedly came from Sulu. He said the suspects were being investigated.
Regional police chief Billy Beltran praised Asdai’s group and the arrest of the trio, saying it was a “job well done and for their utmost efforts that resulted to the arrest of drug personalities involved in drug pushing and trafficking in Zamboanga Peninsula.” (Mindanao Examiner)
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Gun fires break fragile Marawi truce

MARAWI CITY – Gun fires broke a fragile truce on Sunday between security forces and local ISIS militants as Muslims celebrate Eid Al-Fitr in the besieged city of Marawi occupied by hundreds of jihadists since last month.

There were no immediate reports from the military whether fresh fighting erupted following the daylong ceasefire between the warring groups. ISIS fighters are still holed out in the city’s main district as security forces continue to advance to the area in an effort to dislodged the militants and rescue hundreds of trapped civilians and hostages.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Eduardo Año declared the truce on the eve of the Eid celebration following a recommendation made by the Western Mindanao Command.

“The declaration seeks to allow the Islamic faithful to celebrate prayerfully and peacefully Eid al-Fitr which happen to fall on Sunday, 25 June in Marawi. We declare a lull in our current operations in the city on that day as a manifestation of our high respect to the Islamic faith. A testimony to the AFP's solid commitment to provide our brother Muslims especially in the City of Marawi an opportunity to observe this festive event marking the end of the month-long period of Ramadan,” Año said.

But the truce also gave some time for ISIS militants to rest from the fighting which is now on its second month. The militants occupied Marawi on May 23 in an effort to carve an Islamic State province in the restive, but mineral-rich region.

The military said troops may liberate Marawi soon from the hands of ISIS fighters, adding, security forces had killed nearly 300 militants, but the numbers were all based on raw information and not body counts. And military casualties continue to climb up as the fighting rage with over 5 dozen soldiers killed in action and about 2 dozen civilians perished in the violence. (With reports from Moh Saaduddin and Rhoderick Beñez.)

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Saturday, June 24, 2017

ARMM renews call for Marawi evacuees to register for relief, rehab programs

COTABATO CITY - The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has reiterated ts call for evacuees to register using the Disaster Assistance and Family Access Card (DAFAC), which is issued by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
“The evacuees should be registered, to have access to services and resources we are providing,” ARMM Executive Secretary Laisa Alamia said, adding, over 40,750 families have been displaced since the clashes in Marawi City started on May 23.
The delivery of services to displaced families has become harder in recent days as many Marawi residents did not register with DSWD as evacuees, especially those who are staying at their relatives’ houses in neighboring towns and cities. Only 970 families, or 4,691 individuals, are in designated evacuation centers, while 39,783 families, or 189,261 individuals, are home-based.
The regional government has utilized the DAFAC system to ensure equal and timely distribution of relief packs for the evacuees. The system is applied by the DSWD-ARMM to validate the status of families affected by the crisis, which will serve as a reference in the provision of appropriate interventions.
The DAFAC, Sec. Alamia noted, will also be used in future rehabilitation and recovery programs for Marawi City. She said some evacuees went to Northern Mindanao (Region 10), Socsksargen (Region 12), and Davao (Region 11); while some have gone to as far as Visayas and Luzon.
“They could go to their municipal, or city, social welfare officer to register using DAFAC so that the city government of Marawi will be able to monitor its residents, especially when rehabilitation starts,” Sec. Alamia added. The regional government has already spent roughly P35 million in urgent assistance to victims of the Marawi crisis. 
ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman said the aid is aimed at meeting the growing humanitarian needs of communities struggling with the current situation. Marawi is one of only two cities in the ARMM. The governor said current funds from the regional government can still respond to the needs of the evacuees noting the government has so far allocated about P77 million for the victims of the crisis. 
Latest update from the ARMM’s crisis management committee showed the regional government served relief packs to 197,232 evacuees and provided medical services to 5,284 individuals. An operation center has also been set up in Malabang town in Lanao del Sur, and in Iligan City in Lanao del Norte to coordinate and manage the region’s response to the ongoing crisis in Marawi City. 
The ARMM crisis management committee has been active since May 24 in gathering information as well as in assessing and monitoring the situation on the ground to help keep track of the needs of the affected families. Information gathered and verified help the committee in decision making, in planning actions, and in taking steps to continually ease the plight of evacuees, stranded individuals, and missing Marawi residents. (Bureau of Public Information)
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Philippine military halts attacks on ISIS, declares truce in Marawi City

MARAWI CITY – The Philippine military has declared a ceasefire on Sunday in the besieged city of Marawi where hundreds of ISIS militants are battling security forces since May 23 in an effort to carve out a province of the Islamic State in the restive southern region.
The daylong ceasefire will allow Muslims in Marawi to celebrate the end of Ramadan, Islam’s fasting month, and welcome Eid Al-Fitr. Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Eduardo Año approved the truce on the recommendation of the Western Mindanao Command.
“The declaration seeks to allow the Islamic faithful to celebrate prayerfully and peacefully Eid al-Fitr which happen to fall on Sunday, 25 June in Marawi. We declare a lull in our current operations in the city on that day as a manifestation of our high respect to the Islamic faith. A testimony to the AFP's solid commitment to provide our brother Muslims especially in the City of Marawi an opportunity to observe this festive event marking the end of the month-long period of Ramadan,” Año said.
But Año said he will resume offensives if security of troops is jeopardized or the safety of civilians is threatened; and if militants start shooting again. “At that point, our personnel may exercise their right to self defense,” he said.
The declaration of truce also coincided with reports that Abu Sayyaf chieftain and local ISIS leader Isnilon Hapilon and other commanders may have escaped government offensive in Marawi. And that the military is trying to gather intelligence on the reported deaths of brothers Omar and Madie Maute, both ISIS commanders, who were allegedly slain in the fighting.
But other reports claimed that the duo is alive and that Omar - one of key leaders of the local ISIS group with links to Khilafah Islamiyah Movement and the Ghuraba - even exchanged messages with other supporters on social media and posted a photo of himself and Madie as proof that they are still alive and fighting.
The military also said there were reports that Malaysian terrorist and local ISIS financier, Mahmud Ahmad, was also killed in Marawi. (With reports from Moh Saaduddin and Rhoderick Beñez.)
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