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POVERTY AND DESPAIR BREED NEW GENERATION OF NPA REBELS
[ALSO NEWS UPDATE: Bato - Two ‘jihadists’ planted bomb, one ‘bothered by conscience’]
[RELATED: Foiled bomb try at US embassy blamed on Marawi Maute Group]
NOVEMBER 28 -In this Nov. 23, 2016 photo, New People's Army's new regional rebel commander and spokesman Jaime Padilla, center, who uses the nom de guerre Comrade Diego, walks with young guerrillas after having their photos taken at their rebel encampment tucked in the harsh wilderness of the Sierra Madre mountains southeast of Manila, Philippines. AP Photo/Aaron Favila November 28, 2016 - SIERRA MADRE MOUNTAINS, Philippines — In the late-night hours and amid the chirp of crickets, Katryn welcomed a huddle of exhausted Filipino journalists in cheerful spirits like she was home. "Coffee?" she asked with a comforting smile. Comrade Katryn is her nom de guerre, however, and for her, home is a rebel encampment concealed in the rain-soaked wilderness of the Philippines' Sierra Madre Mountains. The 24-year-old walked away from her family two years ago to join one of the world's longest-raging Marxist rebellions. READ MORE...ALSO, Bato: 2 ‘jihadists’ planted bomb, one of them ‘bothered by conscience’... RELATED, Foiled bomb try at US embassy blamed on Maute Group...
ALSO Terrorists’ threat hampers drug war - Retreating Maute group vows to behead Duterte, soldiers
[RELATED: DND - 'All-out war vs Maute' Defense chief prods Duterte to ‘finish’ them]
DECEMBER 2 -Philippine National Police chief Dir. Gen. Ronald dela Rosa RETREATING Maute rebels threatened to decapitate President Rodrigo Duterte and military officials who drove them out of Butig town in Lanao del Sur, even as Philippine National Police chief Dir. Gen. Ronald dela Rosa said the terrorists’ real aim was to disrupt the government’s relentless campaign against illegal drugs in Mindanao. “The illegal drug operations in the region have been badly affected by the PNP’s operations, prompting them to tap terrorists in an effort to ease the pressure,” Dela Rosa said. The police chief acknowledged, however, that this was his personal view and not the official PNP position. Earlier this week, the military drove the some 200 members of the Maute group from their positions in Butig town in Lanao del Sur in six days of heavy fighting in which 62 terrorists were killed. READ MORE...RELATED, DND: All-out war vs Maute: Defense chief prods Duterte to ‘finish’ them...
ALSO: Soldiers take full control of Butig from Maute terror group
[RELATED: AFP open to truce with Maute group]
DECEMBER 1 -Soldiers evacuated their wounded companions as fighting between government troops and members of a terror group erupted in Butig town in Lanao del Sur province. —RICHEL UMEL/FILE INQUIRER PHOTO Soldiers have fully taken control of Butig, Lanao del Sur, which was seized by members of the Maute group since last week, the military said Thursday. “The center of Butig has been 100 percent cleared by our troops. The main areas, the built-up areas of Butig municipality, is now clear,” Armed Forces spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla told reporters at Camp Aguinaldo. Government troops are preparing to turn over the town to the local government so the residents can start going back to their homes. READ MORE...RELATED AFP open to truce with Maute group...
ALSO: Butig, Lanao clashes displaced more than 2,400 families
[RELATED: Jihadists occupy Lanao town hall]
[RELATED(2): Duterte to travel to Marawi despite guards' injuries]
NOVEMBER 29 -Volunteers help the social welfare department of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao prepare relief supplies for conflict-affected villagers in Butig, Lanao del Sur. JOHN UNSON MARAWI CITY, Philippines (Updated 11:08 a.m.) — The number of displaced families in Butig town swelled to 2,450 by noon Monday as members of the outlawed Dawlah Islamiya continued plundering villages and looting abandoned houses before fleeing whenever soldiers come close. Nineteen militants were killed while 13 soldiers have been wounded in the intermittent encounters, according to senior Army and police officials in Lanao del Sur province. A matrix obtained Tuesday from the office of Gov. Soraya Alonto-Adiong indicated that the displaced residents were from eight farming communities in Butig, a hinterland town in the first district of Lanao del Sur. Extremists, led by relatives Abdullah and Omar Maute, founders of the outlawed Dawlah Islamiya, have been locked in a showdown with the military in hinterland areas in Butig since Saturday. READ MORE...RELATED, Jihadists occupy Lanao town hall...RELATED((2) Duterte to travel to Marawi despite guards' injuries...
ALSO: Duterte allays terror fears: Palace rules out writ suspension
[RELATED: (Presidential Security Guards) 7 PSG men, 2 soldiers hurt in Marawi ambush]
NOVEMBER 28 - MALACAÑANG on Monday quelled fears over the possible suspension of the writ of habeas corpus amid continued terror threats. Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella scored opposition lawmakers who claimed that President Rodrigo Duterte was laying down conditions to declare the suspension of the privilege of habeas corpus, following the discovery of a bomb near the US Embassy as well as the ongoing military operations against the Maute local terrorist group. “The reaction of opposition lawmakers that the discovery of IED near the US Embassy along with movement of the Maute group may be laying a foundation for the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus is reading too much into the situation,” Abella said. READ MORE...RELATED, 7 PSG men, 2 soldiers hurt in Marawi ambush...
ALSO: 49 Maute members killed in ongoing Butig purge; Number of injured soldiers rises to 20 as fighting continues
[RELATED: Duterte: ISIS 'has connected' with Maute group]
[RELATED(2): Duterte ready to talk to Abu Sayyaf]
NOVEMBER 29 -President Duterte will proceed with visit to Marawi City on Wednesday despite the blast, adding he will take the same route as the convoy. "'Yung advance party ko belonging to PSG, na-ambush pa kanina, natamaan kanina. I am going there," Duterte said on Tuesday afternoon. COURTESY OF CNN PHILIPPINES President Duterte’s advance security detail was ambushed yesterday in Marawi City by suspected Islamic militants on the eve of his planned visit, resulting in the injury of seven members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) and two Philippine Army soldiers. Maj. Filemon Tan Jr., Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) spokesman, said a bomb hit the soldiers’ convoy as it drove on a road in Barangay Matampay, Marawi where the Maute group which had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) operates. Tan said the incident occurred shortly after 10 a.m. yesterday, which was also a day after the police thwarted an attempted bombing near the United States Embassy compound in Manila. READ MORE..RELATED, Duterte: ISIS 'has connected' with Maute group... RELATED(2) Duterte ready to talk to Abu Sayyaf]
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Poverty, despair breed new generation of Philippine rebels
NOVEMBER 28 -In this Nov. 23, 2016 photo, New People's Army's new regional rebel commander and spokesman Jaime Padilla, center, who uses the nom de guerre Comrade Diego, walks with young guerrillas after having their photos taken at their rebel encampment tucked in the harsh wilderness of the Sierra Madre mountains southeast of Manila, Philippines. Young Filipino rebels represent a new generation of Maoist fighters, who reflect the resiliency and constraints of an insurgency that has dragged on for nearly half a century through six Philippine presidencies. Crushing poverty, despair, government misrule and the abysmal inequality that has long plagued Philippine society were their best recruiter, according to the guerrillas. AP Photo/Aaron Favila
SIERRA MADRE MOUNTAINS, DECEMBER 5, 2016 (PHILSTAR) By Jim Gomez (Associated Press) November 28, 2016 - SIERRA MADRE MOUNTAINS, Philippines — In the late-night hours and amid the chirp of crickets, Katryn welcomed a huddle of exhausted Filipino journalists in cheerful spirits like she was home. "Coffee?" she asked with a comforting smile.
Comrade Katryn is her nom de guerre, however, and for her, home is a rebel encampment concealed in the rain-soaked wilderness of the Philippines' Sierra Madre Mountains. The 24-year-old walked away from her family two years ago to join one of the world's longest-raging Marxist rebellions.
Mostly in their 20s and 30s, a few dozen New People's Army guerrillas lugged M16 rifles and grenade launchers on a plateau where red hammer-and-sickle flags adorned a makeshift hall. Most wore mud-stained boots while cooking over wood fires or guarding the peripheries of the encampment, just 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) from the nearest army camp.
They're part of a new generation of Maoist fighters who reflect the resiliency and constraints of an insurgency that has dragged on for nearly half a century through six Philippine presidencies while Cold War-era communist insurgencies across much of the world have faded into memory.
They are driven by some of the same things as their predecessors, including crushing poverty, despair, government misrule and the abysmal inequality that has long plagued Philippine society.
In this Nov. 23, 2016 photo, a woman New People's Army guerrilla with face painted to conceal her identity holds her firearm inside a makeshift shelter at their rebel encampment tucked in the harsh wilderness of the Sierra Madre mountains, southeast of Manila, Philippines. AP Photo/Aaron Favila
"The New People's Army has no other recruiter but the state itself," a young rebel, Comrade May, told The Associated Press.
She joined the rebellion two years ago after her fiance died of kidney failure because his family was too poor to afford the expensive dialysis treatment.
A lowly paid factory worker, May couldn't do anything. Government hospitals overwhelmed by swarms of indigent patients failed to give him immediate care.
"His [fiance] family gave up and reserved the remaining money for his coffin," said May, who now serves as a rebel medic for fellow guerrillas and destitute villagers beyond the government's reach.
Katryn came from a middle-class family that could afford a car, a house and education. She wanted to become a journalist, but got profoundly disaffected by a government and laws she said could not protect the working class, including her father, who lost his job as an engineer for joining a trade union.
She said she went underground as a left-wing activist and bid goodbye to her father, her mother, who was a former teacher, and a life of modest comforts. "It was difficult. I cried," she said.
Now adjusted to rebel life, Katryn said she'll stay for good. She agreed to face news cameras with just a dash of red and blue paint — the colors of the revolution — to camouflage her identity.
The rebellion's longevity is best personified by Jaime Padilla, or Comrade Diego, who was introduced as the new rebel commander and spokesman in a region that has seen the ebb and flow of the insurgency. Now 69, he took up arms when then-dictator Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in 1972, largely to quell the spreading communist insurrection that began four years earlier.
Donning a newly designed ceremonial khaki uniform topped by a Mao cap, the folksy rebel leader with a ready smile gave an upbeat assessment of the rebellion. The military, however, says it has largely beaten back the guerrillas in most of the provinces south of Manila where Padilla's rebel forces have had a presence.
Battle setbacks, surrenders and infighting have weakened the rebel group, which is blacklisted as a terrorist organization by the United States. A confidential Philippine government assessment obtained by the AP says the guerrillas had declined to 3,800 fighters with more than 4,500 firearms in the first half of the year, with about 700 of the country's 42,000 villages affected by the insurgency.
The insurgent group "remains as a threat to national security due to its stance of not abandoning the armed struggle," the report said.
"It's true that the armed struggle has gone through ups and downs, that's a part of history," Padilla told the AP. But he added that the rebellion "will not disappear because of the fundamental needs of the people. The problems have persisted, and that's the platform of the rebellion."
In this Nov. 23, 2016 photo, a New People's Army guerrilla with face painted to conceal his identity plays the guitar at their rebel encampment tucked in the harsh wilderness of the Sierra Madre mountains, southeast of Manila, Philippines. AP Photo/Aaron Favila
Founded in 1968, the rebels' communist party has held peace talks with six Philippine presidents, including Rodrigo Duterte, whose rise to power in June sparked rebel optimism due to his searing anti-U.S. rhetoric, populist pro-poor stance and appointments of at least two left-wing Cabinet members. Both sides declared separate and indefinite cease-fires in August.
IN A DILEMMA
But the guerrillas found themselves in a dilemma after Duterte was accused of gross human rights violations for his anti-drug crackdown, which has left a large number of poor suspected drug users and dealers dead. Some of the slain suspects were rebel followers who were never involved in drugs, Padilla said.
Duterte's recent decision to allow Marcos' burial at a heroes' cemetery, his walking back on his angry threats to scale down Philippine engagements with the U.S. military and rebel allegations of military violations of its own cease-fire have dampened the optimism.
About a month ago, Padilla's rebel command offered to provide security to Duterte, calling him a patriot and suspecting that American forces may covertly take steps to kill or oust him over his anti-U.S. stance.
After Marcos' burial at the heroes' cemetery, the communist party denounced Duterte for showing "gross disrespect and insensitivity to the Filipino people's sufferings under the brutal martial law rule" and urged him "to reverse this historical wrong" or risk facing mounting protests and political isolation.
But Padilla said the guerrillas will remain sincerely engaged in Norway-brokered peace talks that have given them respite from decades of fighting that is estimated to have left about 40,000 combatants and civilians dead.
"While in a cease-fire, we continue to consolidate our ranks, our recruitment of our forces from the mass bases who are ready to revolt," Padilla said.
"We can talk to (the government) at the table to resolve the people's problems," he said, but added, "We're always prepared for any breakup and continue our armed struggle."
ALSO NEWS UPDATE FROM THE INQUIRER
Bato: Two ‘jihadists’ planted bomb, one of them ‘bothered by conscience’ By: Jerome Aning - Reporter / @JeromeAningINQ Philippine Daily Inquirer / 01:34 AM December 02, 2016
In a Camp Crame briefing on Thursday, Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa presents Jiaher Kali Guinar and Rayson Sacdal Kilala who were arrested for allegedly planting a home-made bomb found near the US Embassy on Nov. 28. —LYN RILLON
Two members of a jihadist cell planted the home-made bomb found in a trash bin near the US Embassy in Manila on Monday, the Philippine National Police said as it stuck to its initial “theory” as to who was behind the “attempted act of terrorism.”
PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa presented the suspects, Rashid Kilala, alias Rayson Sacdal Kilala, 34, of Bulakan, Bulacan; and Jiaher Kali Guinar, 30, of Marawi City. Both were arrested by Manila and Bulacan policemen the other day.
Kilala and Guinar allegedly belong to a cell of the Ansar Al-Khalifa-Philippines which is affiliated with the Maute terrorist group and has declared allegiance to the Islamic State (IS), Dela Rosa said in press briefing at Camp Crame on Thursday.
Dela Rosa said three more members of the cell remained at large and may have already have returned to Mindanao to help the Maute group, whose members are holed up in Butig, Lanao del Sur amid a military offensive launched against them last week.
“One of the three informed the others that he will be returning to Lanao to help their fellows because our military was already attacking their camp,” the PNP chief added.
Dela Rosa said the improvised explosive device (IED), made up of a mortar shell attached to a cell phone detonator, were placed among pillows and transported all the way from Mindanao in a Toyota Revo brought by the three other suspects, one of whom is also member of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.
Rizal Park first target
Kilala and Guinar rode the vehicle to Rizal Park in Manila before dawn Monday and planted the IED there, using radio as the triggering device.
The IED, however, failed to explode and Kilala, the driver, had an attack of conscience and convinced Guinar to plant the bomb somewhere else. The IED was fixed with a cell phone as its new detonator.
“He was bothered by his conscience because many might be hurt [at Rizal Park], so they went to Roxas Boulevard instead,” Dela Rosa said.
The two men passed by a garbage bin along Roxas Boulevard near the US Embassy and Guinar dropped the IED there.
The two were later apprehended through intelligence work, forensics and the testimony of eyewitnesses, one of whom provided a description of Guinar, a cell phone store owner who was arrested in Caloocan City.
Dela Rosa said a phone found in Guianar’s possession was confirmed to have rung up the phone attached to the IED left on Roxas Boulevard.
Dela Rosa said the PNP did not immediately disclose the arrest of Kilala and Guinar for “operational secrecy,” as the police were still hunting for the other suspects.
Only Kilala has admitted participation in the bomb plot, he said, and both suspects were still under investigation and have not yet been provided with lawyers.
“They should look for lawyers on their own. I don’t want it to be my problem,” the official stressed. “They’re the ones who wanted to kill innocent people and I will give lawyers to defend them?”
The suspects will be charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism and illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
Asked about the suspects’ motives, Bato said “they want their group to get recognition from Isis, especially if they can explode a bomb and hurt many people. At the same time they wanted to ease up the pressure on the Butig offensive. They want to be recognized, they want fi nancial support. Ideology plus money. That can be the motive.”
The PNP chief said the public, especially those in Metro Manila and urban centers, should expect random mobile checkpoints, as well as more PNP operations against suspected terrorists and raids on their hideouts, as the country remained under “Threat Level 3” as declared by the Anti-Terrorism Council.
The alert status was raised following the Sept. 2 night market bombing that killed 15 people in Davao City, which the government also blamed on the Maute group. Threat Level 3 means there is a strong possibility of a terror attack within a short period of time.
However, Dela Rosa explained there was no need to panic as the terror alert was only equivalent to the PNP’s “full alert status,” which has been in effect since the Davao bombing.
“There’s no cause of alarm. I’m advising the public to be vigilant, alert and cautious. But don’t panic. Relax, enjoy Christmas,” he added.
RELATED FROM THE TRIBUNE
Foiled bomb try blamed on Maute Group Written by Tribune Wires Tuesday, 29 November 2016
By Pat C. Santos and Ted Tuvera
The police defused a bomb found in a trash can near the US embassy in Manila with officials blaming Islamic militants called the Maute Group for what they suspected was an attempted terrorist act.
An improvised explosive device (IED) composed of a mobile phone, blasting cap, nine-volt battery and 81-millimeter mortar bomb was found by a street sweeper about 200 meters from the embassy, the Manila police said.
Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa said the Maute Group has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) group, was probably behind the incident.
“This is an attempted act of terrorism,” de la Rosa told a news briefing.
“Because of an ongoing police and military operation there, (the militants) have many casualties. We can theorize that this is a diversion to loosen our operations,” he added.
The military began an operation last Thursday against the Maute group, which staged a deadly bombing in President Duterte’s home town in Davao City that killed 15 people in September.The militants are holed up in an abandoned government building in the mainly Muslim rural town of Butig on Lanao del Sur. Troops have been firing artillery to flush them out.
The aborted bombing attempt will not be a reason for President Duterte to suspend the writ of habeas corpus nor for the declaration of martial law, Palace officials said.
Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said Duterte critics should avoid using the issue to fan speculations.
“The reaction of opposition lawmakers that the discovery of IED near the US embassy along with movement of the Maute group may be laying a foundation for the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus is reading too much into the situation,” Abella said.
Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the thwarted terror attack demands no urgent emergency reaction from the Chief Executive.
Andanar said Duterte trusts the capability of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to be on “top of the situation” and “in beefing up security measures in public places especially where there are big crowds.”
“President Duterte finds no compelling reason to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus at this point. As a strong advocate of the rule of law, he is fully aware of the limits of presidential powers,” he said.
Andanar also advised the public to be vigilant about the their safety following the apparent security threat.
“To ensure public safety in airports, seaports, bus and mass transport terminals, concerned transport agencies are instructed to increase the visibility and presence of uniformed personnel and heighten the screening of persons and luggage as part of our security vigilance,” Andanar said.
“We assure the public that this incident should not be a cause for alarm. Business and work continue as normal,” he added.
Dela Rosa said he believed the Maute gang or the Ansar Khilafa Philippines left the bomb near the US embassy.
Police said the bomb was left early Monday by a taxi passenger, who stopped and threw the device into a trash bin. A street sweeper later found the package and reported it to police, officials added.
The bomb could have caused injury or damage within a 100-meter radius, police said.
Dela Rosa said the bomb had the same design as the device the Maute group used in the Davao attack.
“Unless we get hard evidence, by analysis we can theorize this can be linked to Maute because of what happened in Davao,” he said.
The Davao bombing prompted Duterte to put the nation under a “state of emergency” that led to tighter security measures.
Mindanao is home to various extremist groups and a four-decade Muslim separatist revolt that left more than 100,000 people dead, according to government estimates.
Manila Police District headquarter Sr. Supt Joel Napoleon Coronel said authorities were coordinating with the US embassy to determine if the mission was the target of the attempted bombing.
The embassy thanked police for their “quick and appropriate action”. AFP
Terrorists’ threat hampers drug war: Retreating Maute group vows to behead Duterte, soldiers posted December 02, 2016 at 11:59 pm by Francisco Tuyay
Philippine National Police chief Dir. Gen. Ronald dela Rosa
RETREATING Maute rebels threatened to decapitate President Rodrigo Duterte and military officials who drove them out of Butig town in Lanao del Sur, even as Philippine National Police chief Dir. Gen. Ronald dela Rosa said the terrorists’ real aim was to disrupt the government’s relentless campaign against illegal drugs in Mindanao.
“The illegal drug operations in the region have been badly affected by the PNP’s operations, prompting them to tap terrorists in an effort to ease the pressure,” Dela Rosa said. The police chief acknowledged, however, that this was his personal view and not the official PNP position. Earlier this week, the military drove the some 200 members of the Maute group from their positions in Butig town in Lanao del Sur in six days of heavy fighting in which 62 terrorists were killed.
The group vowed revenge Friday.
“Better hide. Be wary, Duterte. We’ll have your head,” a parting message left by the terrorists on a chalkboard in Butig said.
The jihadist group also offered this advice to soldiers: “Get ready, soldiers, we’ll cut off your heads.”
Armed Forces spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla had a warning of his own for the terrorists.
“There’s an end to everything,” he said in Filipino. “And if your pockets are not deep, the Armed Forces’ pocket are very deep, deep enough to hunt you down and finish you off.”
Earlier this week, Padilla said the Maute group had already retreated from the old municipal building after being overpowered by ground and air shelling.
Following six days of fighting in Butig town, the military said 62 members of the Maute group have been killed while 37 soldiers were wounded.
Citing a report from the 103rd Infantry Brigade, Padilla added that the Butig has been “100 percent cleared” of the Maute group.
Thousands of residents who fled the fighting have yet to return to their homes for fear of landmines that the retreating terrorists might have left.
MAUTE GROUP BEHIND SEPTEMBER DAVAO ATTACK
The Maute group was behind the deadly Davao City night market bomb attack on Sept. 2 that killed 15 people and wounded 70 others.
At least three suspected Maute members were arrested by military operatives two months after the blast that Dela Rosa also linked to narco-terrorism.
Also on Friday, a member of the Parojinog family of Ozamis City denied any connection with the Maute group or the illegal drug trade.
“We outrightly deny any connections with Maute group or to any terrorist group here and abroad. We are not in any way involved in the drug trade nor associated with any terrorist group,” Ozamis City Vice Mayor Nova Princess Parojinog said in a statement.
She added that they have nothing to do with any act of terrorism or any act of violence or any act to destabilize the peace and order in the region.
DUTERTE WANTS PEACE TALKS WITH GROUP
Padilla said that the military is willing to heed the call of President Duterte for the AFP to talk peace with the Maute group and the Abu Sayyaf, but warned that the offer to make peace should not be “at the expense of justice.”
“If they want war, we will give them war. There is a limit to our patience... The Armed Forces has all the means to obliterate their forces,” Padilla told reporters.
“Those who have pending warrants or who were already sentenced in court must answer for the crimes they have committed,” he added.
Padilla said that the terrorist group have yet to send surrender feelers.
He also urged the press to limit the coverage of the Maute group because publicity is what they want to establish links with the Islamic State terrorist group.
“It would be better if news about the Maute group will not be reported because we are only giving them an opportunity to reach their target audience,” Padilla said.
BUTIG WILL BE SECURED VS RETURN OF MAUTE
Padilla said Butig would be secured to make sure the terrorist group did not return.
At the same time, Padilla denied accusations from a youth group that the ambush on the President’s advance party in Marawi City was set up by the military.
“I’d like to state that whatever news that came out viral in social media coming from a certain alleged youth group is nothing but propaganda,” Padilla said.
“The incident did and actually happened and was not something that was contrived or made up by the Armed Forces. Our men were hurt in a roadside bombing,” he added.
Padilla admitted that military committed lapses in securing the area, allowing the terrorist group to leave a bag containing an improvised bomb in the area where they know the convoy will be passing.
“The convoy was an easy target because it was a marked vehicle and they were moving in broad daylight,” he said.
DUTERTE'S SOLDIERS HURT
Seven members of the Presidential Security Group and two of the troops escorting the convoy were hurt in the IED explosion.
President Duterte visited the injured government troops in a hospital in Cagayan de Oro on Wednesday.
Before trying to seek an alliance with IS, the Maute group has been affiliated with the Jemaah Islamiyah that used to be a significant terrorist group in Southeast Asia in the mid-90s but is now trying to seek funding and recognition from IS as a ‘wilayat’ or province in Southeast Asia.
RELATED FROM THE MANILA STANDARD
DND: All-out war vs Maute - Defense chief prods Duterte to ‘finish’ them posted November 30, 2016 at 10:01 pm by John Paolo Bencito
DIGONG WITH MISUARI -SIGNATURE GESTURE. President Rodrigo Duterte and military men do his signature clenched fist during his visit to Lumbayanague town, Lanao del Sur on Nov. 30, 2016. Toto Lozano
DEFENSE Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Wednesday urged President Rodrigo Duterte to wage an all-out offensive against the terrorist Maute group, after the Chief Executive hinted that he was open to talking peace with them.
“I will push for sustained and all-out operations against the Maute. They have been committing crimes with impunity,” Lorenzana told Manila Standard. “We need to finish them.”
Lorenzana warned that the Maute group’s connection to the Islamic State was an imminent threat to the already fragile security situation in the country.
He said if the international coalition made headway in its military offensive in Iraq, the Islamic State could transfer to the Philippines.
Various militant groups in Mindanao, including the Maute group and the Abu Sayyaf, were reportedly courting the jihadist group for recognition as a ‘wilayat’ (province) in Southeast Asia.
Lorenzana said that their recent acts suggests that they have already established connections with the global terrorist organization, contrary to their earlier position last August that they weren’t much of a threat.
“They’ve always said they support IS, and they fly their flag. With those indications, you can come to the conclusion that maybe that connection is already there,” Lorenzana said in Filipino.
On Wednesday, Duterte warned the Maute group, saying that they should not force him to declare war against them.
“Do not force me because I might be provoked to do something drastic,” Duterte said in his speech before troops at the Tactical Command Post in Lumbayanague, Lanao del Sur, some five kilometers away from the war zone in Butig town.
“When the time comes that it’s going to be a war against terrorism and drugs, I will tell you now that I can be harsh... as harsh I can ever be,” he added.
In an interview with reporters at Camp Evangelista Station Hospital in Cagayan de Oro City, Duterte said the Maute group should stop waging war on the government.
“For the Maute, I said I do not want to declare war against Filipinos, but I told them that they have to stop. I hope we will not reach that point that we have to go to war. So I am doing everything to prevent war,” Duterte said.
“I don’t want to go to war, but do not force my hand into it,” he added.
Duterte said that he hoped to have a “middle ground” with the Maute group, whom he cited in previous speeches were provoked by “Moro nationalism.”
“It’s very easy to start a war. But how to stop it and to heal the wounds, it would be hard. I wish we could have a middle ground,” Duterte said.
The President said he tried sending feelers to the Maute group but to no avail.
“I have long opened [communication lines with them]. This problem cannot be resolved through sheer courage alone. But there is always a time when I have to protect everybody,” Duterte said.
DUTERTE PUSHED THROUGH VISIT TO HURT SOLDIERS
Despite threats to his security, the President pushed through with his visit to Lanao del Sur Wednesday, when he landed at the Tactical Command Post in Lumbayanague, a mere five kilometers from the war zone in Butig.
Nine soldiers, including members of his security group were injured Tuesday with two in critical condition on Tuesday after an improvised bomb exploded near a presidential convoy in Marawi City.
On Tuesday, Duterte suggested he could “befriend” the Maute group to avoid conflict.
He also urged them to abandon their “losing cause” and talk with the government.
“How could you be a Maranao? You’re a Tausug… and you take orders form outside just to fight for what? Won’t this end?” he said.
It has long been against official policy to negotiate with terrorist groups. The Maute group was behind the Davao City night market bomb attack that killed 15 people in September.
On November 24, the group occupied the abandoned town hall of Butig in Lanao del Sur and reportedly raised the black flag of IS. The Army has sent elite troops to flush out the group.
WATCH VIDEO: Duterte gives pep-talk to heavily armed soldiers fighting the Maute Group
Soldiers take full control of Butig from Maute terror group By: Frances Mangosing - Reporter / @FMangosingINQ INQUIRER.net / 04:12 PM December 01, 2016
Soldiers evacuated their wounded companions as fighting between government troops and members of a terror group erupted in Butig town in Lanao del Sur province. —RICHEL UMEL/FILE INQUIRER PHOTO
Soldiers have fully taken control of Butig, Lanao del Sur, which was seized by members of the Maute group since last week, the military said Thursday.
“The center of Butig has been 100 percent cleared by our troops. The main areas, the built-up areas of Butig municipality, is now clear,” Armed Forces spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla told reporters at Camp Aguinaldo.
Government troops are preparing to turn over the town to the local government so the residents can start going back to their homes.
“Military operations will continue in nearby areas where clearing operations are needed so the rebels won’t be able to return,” Padilla said.
The spokesperson also assured that there are security measures in place in order to secure the safety of the residents.
Military estimates said that 61 members of the Maute group were killed, while 12 were injured. On the government side, wounded soldiers remained at 35.
The Maute group, which has pledged loyalty to the Islamic State, previously took control of Butig town since last week, prompting the military to launch its operations. JE
AFP: 85% of Butig, Lanao Sur recovered; 61 Maute men killed
Butig evacuees can’t get relief aid due to clashes
RELATED FROM PHILSTAR
AFP open to truce with Maute group By Michael Punongbayan (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 2, 2016 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said the military supports all efforts to peacefully end the fighting between government forces and the Islamic State-inspired militants. AP/Bullit Marquez, file
MANILA, Philippines - If there was a peaceful way to end the violence, such as President Duterte’s floating the idea of talking peace with the extremist Maute group, the military would be more than willing to stop fighting and killing fellow Filipinos.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said the military supports all efforts to peacefully end the fighting between government forces and the Islamic State-inspired militants.
“It is difficult to fight fellow Filipinos. As much as possible we are avoiding armed conflicts with our fellow countrymen, it is for the good and welfare of all. We share the same sentiment of our good President,” Padilla said.
Duterte said earlier this week that he would “befriend” the Maute group to avoid more trouble, a statement which presidential communications assistant secretary Kristian Ablan described as “trying to exhaust all means in order to attain peace and order.”
Duterte also declared that he does not want “to wage a war against Filipinos,” which is why he is calling on the militants to not “force (his) hand to do it.”
Padilla said talking to the Maute group to achieve peace would mean the group’s giving up arms and surrendering to the government.
“In our case, in the interest of justice and of those who are affected by all this violence, for as long as these elements, to whom the message was addressed, lay down their firearms or the instruments of violence come out asking that they be given a second chance at life, then we will assist by all means because these are Filipinos,” he said.
Padilla said some of the Maute members may have been misled and the AFP is willing to redirect their lives for more productive endeavors.
“But if they have arrest warrants or have been involved in certain violent activities and have been sentenced in court, then they must answer for their crimes in accordance with the rules of justice,” he stressed.
This developed as government forces took full control of Butig town in Lanao del Sur, ending six days of fighting with the Maute group.
The military stepped up its offensive after the weekend, pounding the rebels holed up in the old municipal hall with artillery and bombs dropped from aircraft.
The military said 35 soldiers were wounded and 61 rebels were killed in the operation.
“The troops have already cleared Poblacion Butig 100 percent,” Padilla said.
Padilla added the troops are under orders to chase down the Maute group.
The troops were also tasked to clear the town of any booby traps and IEDs that could have been planted by the rebels in several buildings and houses. – With Jaime Laude, Lino de la Cruz, Roel Pareño
Butig clashes displace more than 2,400 families By John Unson (philstar.com) | Updated November 29, 2016 - 8:30am 0 28 googleplus0 0
Volunteers help the social welfare department of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao prepare relief supplies for conflict-affected villagers in Butig, Lanao del Sur. JOHN UNSON
MARAWI CITY, Philippines (Updated 11:08 a.m.) — The number of displaced families in Butig town swelled to 2,450 by noon Monday as members of the outlawed Dawlah Islamiya continued plundering villages and looting abandoned houses before fleeing whenever soldiers come close.
Nineteen militants were killed while 13 soldiers have been wounded in the intermittent encounters, according to senior Army and police officials in Lanao del Sur province.
A matrix obtained Tuesday from the office of Gov. Soraya Alonto-Adiong indicated that the displaced residents were from eight farming communities in Butig, a hinterland town in the first district of Lanao del Sur.
Extremists, led by relatives Abdullah and Omar Maute, founders of the outlawed Dawlah Islamiya, have been locked in a showdown with the military in hinterland areas in Butig since Saturday.
Residents of two barangays in nearby Lumbayanague town have also fled for fear of getting trapped in the crossfire.
More relief coming
The provincial government initially distributed more than three tons of relief supplies to the evacuees on Sunday.
Salma Jayne Tamano, provincial information officer, said workers are to distribute more relief supplies in evacuation sites in the next three days.
She said the office of the provincial governor will sustain the needs of the evacuees while government forces are still trying to restore normalcy in Butig.
Haroun Al-Rashid Lucman, regional vice governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said employees of ARMM’s social welfare department are now preparing individual relief packs for each of the affected families.
“We are hoping the situation there will return to normal soon,” said Lucman, also concurrent regional secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development-ARMM.
Lucman said they have enlisted the help of influential Muslim religious leaders and respected elders in Lanao del Sur to help convince the extremists to leave the area for the sake of the innocent Maranaw folks there.
The Dawlah Islamiya, also known as the Maute terror group, is an extremely radical organization boasting of loyalty to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
ISIS HOSTILITIES IN BUTIG
On Monday night, President Rodrigo Duterte, citing intelligence reports, said ISIS and the Maute group now have links.
Senior members of different municipal peace and order councils in Lanao del Sur informed The STAR Tuesday morning that by noontime Monday, the Dawlah Islamia already has 19 fatalities, among them adolescents.
The hostilities erupted after the militants hoisted the black ISIS banner in strategic areas in Butig.
“They keep saying that they are fighting for Islam and for an Islamic state in Mindanao but what they are doing is absolutely a total turnaround from the Islamic teachings on peace and co-existence with non-Muslims,” said a municipal councilor who is related by blood to the Maute clan in Butig.
The police also confirmed that the extremists had looted houses in villages they attacked and took with them farm animals, including carabaos as they eluded responding soldiers.
The group has been enforcing a Taliban-style justice system in far-flung areas where it has clandestine courts that are rabidly opposed by local mainstream Islamic theologians.
RELATED FROM THE MANILA STANDARD
Jihadists occupy Lanao town hall posted November 26, 2016 at 10:01 pm by Francisco Tuyay
HEAVY FIRE. Government troops train the heavy guns of the First Infantry Division on Butig town in Lanao del Sur where members of the jihadist Maute Group ensconced themselves as the military ran after their leader. Radio Mindanao Network
AT least eight Islamic militants were killed while two government troops were wounded after extremists fled to the abandoned town hall of Butig town in Lanao del Sur amid a military operation to capture the leader of the Maute jihadist group on Saturday morning.
Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said about 200 Maute group members fled to the abandoned town hall after the military mounted an operation to capture their leader Abdullah Maute, a Jordanian-trained terrorist who formed the jihadist Dawlah Islamiya.
“We launched an operation more than two days ago with the aim of capturing the leader of the group that is sowing chaos in parts of Lanao, Maguindanao and Cotabato,” Padilla said in a radio interview. “They are also responsible for the bombing in Davao.”
“They fled and occupied the abandoned town hall of Butig which is located in an area where they have relatives and supporters,” Padilla said, adding the military also launched artillery fire and air strikes against the group.
Padilla said the clash took place just five months after the military captured the Maute group’s Darul Iman stronghold in June.
Padilla said the fighting began around 10 a.m. Saturday after troops of the 49th Infantry Battalion engaged 15 Maute group members in a 45-minute gun fight at Barangay Bayabao Poblacion after which the terrorists withdrew.
Government troops pursued the fleeing rebels and eventually caught up with them at the old municipal hall where they sought cover against the attacking security forces.
REBELS RAISED UP ISLAMIC STATE FLAG
The rebels even raised an Islamic State flag at the old town hall and positioned themselves in the nearby national high school and mosque.
Major Filemon Tan, spokesman of the Western Mindanao Command, said they are carefully analyzing the current situation in Butig to prevent collateral damage.
Tan said Maute renamed the group Dawla Islamiya to impress foreign terrorists so that they could get funding. The group was responsible for the Davao City bombing last September that left 14 people dead and wounded 70 others.
The Maute group, which operates mainly in the Lanao provinces, is also believed to have links to the Parojinog narcotics ring based in Ozamis City.
Many members of the Maute group are members of the Alkhobar kidnapping ring which used to be led by former lieutenants of Moro Islamic Liberation Front chieftain Hashim Salamat who broke away from the MILF after Salamat’s death.
RELATED(2) FROM PHILSTAR
Duterte to travel to Marawi despite guards' injuries (Associated Press) | Updated November 29, 2016 - 5:18pm 1 45 googleplus0 0
In this Oct. 12, 2016 photo, President Rodrigo Duterte gestures while addressing the Philippine Coast Guard's 115th anniversary celebration which was highlighted by the commissioning of its vessel from Japan the BRP Tubbataha, Wednesday in Manila, Philippines. On Tuesday, November 29, Duterte said he would pursue his trip to Marawi City against the advice of security officials after his advance party of presidential guards got wounded by a roadside bomb. AP/Bullit Marquez
CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte said Tuesday he will go ahead with a planned trip to Marawi City against the advice of security officials after an advance team of presidential guards was wounded by a roadside bomb in the volatile region.
Col. Edgard Arevalo, Armed Forces public affairs chief, said seven presidential guards, including an officer, were injured by the bomb as they traveled in a military convoy to an army camp in Marawi City, in an attack by suspected Muslim militants.
Two other soldiers based in the south were also wounded in the attack, police said, adding that some of the soldiers managed to return fire and wounded some of the militants.
RELATED: Duterte's advance party injured by IED blast in Marawi
The injured members of the Presidential Security Group were airlifted to a hospital.
Duterte said he wants to take the same route as the injured guards, adding in jest that the vice president could take his place if something happens to him.
"The advice was to postpone. I said, 'no, I'll go there and if possible take the same route,'" Duterte, who is known for his brashness and foul language, said in a speech in northern Nueva Ecija province.
"Maybe we can have a little gunfight here, gunfight there," he said. "If I can't make it ... that's why we have a vice president, Leni Robredo. We can have a gentle president in exchange for the discourteous mouth."
Duterte plans to travel to Marawi to meet military officials overseeing an offensive against local Islamic State group sympathizers in Butig town. The military says about 40 militants have been killed and several soldiers have been injured in the offensive.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he suspects the militants attacked the convoy to divert the military's focus from the offensive, and they probably were not aware that the presidential guards were on board.
Duterte allays terror fears: Palace rules out suspension of habeas writ posted November 28, 2016 at 10:01 pm by John Paolo Bencito
MALACAÑANG on Monday quelled fears over the possible suspension of the writ of habeas corpus amid continued terror threats.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella scored opposition lawmakers who claimed that President Rodrigo Duterte was laying down conditions to declare the suspension of the privilege of habeas corpus, following the discovery of a bomb near the US Embassy as well as the ongoing military operations against the Maute local terrorist group.
“The reaction of opposition lawmakers that the discovery of IED near the US Embassy along with movement of the Maute group may be laying a foundation for the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus is reading too much into the situation,” Abella said.
“The suspicious circumstances are already being investigated,” he added.
Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said there was no compelling reason to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus at this point.
“As a strong advocate of the rule of law, he is fully aware of the limits of presidential powers,” Andanar said. “Given this, President Duterte believes any intervention at his level is unnecessary.”
Andanar also said that there was no cause for alarm in Metro Manila after an improvised explosive device was found near the US Embassy on Roxas Boulevard.
“The PNP is on top of the situation and shall beef up security measures in public places especially where there are big crowds,” Andanar said in a statement.
A member of police bomb disposal unit places a water bomb disruptor at the site, where a suspicious package was found, for detonation along Roxas boulevard near the US embassy in Manila.
“We assure the public that this incident should not be a cause for alarm. Business and work continue as normal,” he added,
A bomb was found by a street sweeper in a trash can along the boulevard at past 7 a.m., with parts of the improvised bomb, including an 81-mm mortar, a 9-volt battery, a cellphone, a switch and a blasting cap.
Investigators said the mortar was similar to the one used in the night market bombing in Davao City that killed 15 people in September.
The attack prompted Duterte to declare a state of lawless violence nationwide.
Andanar said that police have already heightened security in Metro Manila.
Members of the Explosive Ordinance Division (EOD) of the Manila Police District Command gather evidence after detonating an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) found near US Embassy along Roxas Boulevard in Manila. Norman Cruz
“To ensure public safety in airports, seaports, bus and mass transport terminals, concerned transport agencies are instructed to increase the visibility and presence of uniformed personnel and heighten the screening of persons and luggage as part of our security vigilance,” he added.
Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa bristled at speculation that the government had orchestrated a bomb threat to pave the way for the declaration of Martial Law.
“For God’s sake, the government will not use an incident that will cause panic, fear and undue harm to its own people to declare martial law,” Dela Rosa told the ABS-CBN network. “We wouldn’t do that. What if our children were hurt in the blast?”
“Think that there is a God watching over all of us, and stop insinuating that the government is behind this,” he said in Filipino.
RELATED FROM THE TRIBUNE
7 PSG men, 2 soldiers hurt in Marawi ambush Written by Tribune Wires Wednesday, 30 November 2016 00:00
President Duterte will proceed with visit to Marawi City on Wednesday despite the blast, adding he will take the same route as the convoy. "'Yung advance party ko belonging to PSG, na-ambush pa kanina, natamaan kanina. I am going there," Duterte said on Tuesday afternoon. COURTESY OF CNN PHILIPPINES
President Duterte’s advance security detail was ambushed yesterday in Marawi City by suspected Islamic militants on the eve of his planned visit, resulting in the injury of seven members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) and two Philippine Army soldiers.
Maj. Filemon Tan Jr., Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) spokesman, said a bomb hit the soldiers’ convoy as it drove on a road in Barangay Matampay, Marawi where the Maute group which had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) operates.
Tan said the incident occurred shortly after 10 a.m. yesterday, which was also a day after the police thwarted an attempted bombing near the United States Embassy compound in Manila.
Wounded in the IED explosion were one PSG official, six enlisted personnel and two regular troops. The identities of the wounded soldiers were not immediately available. One of them was seriously wounded.
“My advance party was ambushed a while ago. The Presidential Security Group was hit by an IED (improvised explosive device),” Duterte said in a speech during a visit to Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija yesterday.
“But I’m going there. The advice was to postpone it (the trip), but I said no. We are taking the same route if possible,” Duterte added without explaining the purpose of his trip.
The convoy that was attacked in Marawi City also included local troops as well as staff members of the presidential communications office, though no civilians were hurt, military officials said.The planned Duterte visit came days after the military began operations against dozens of armed members of the Maute group holed up in an abandoned government building in the mainly Muslim rural town of Butig on Mindanao island.
Fifteen soldiers were injured in the fighting while 35 militants were killed, military spokesman Brigadier-General Restituto Padilla said.
The Maute gang was also blamed for a bombing in Duterte’s home town in Davao City last September 2 that killed 15 people.
Padilla said it was likely the Maute group was behind Tuesday’s ambush.
“We know their supporters are surrounding the area and possibly planted bombs on the side of the roads to disrupt the movement of troop reinforcements,” Padilla said.
Last Monday, Duterte said IS, which controlled vast swathes of Iraq and Syria, had linked up with the Maute gang, a departure from previous military denials of formal links between IS and local extremist groups.
I’m going because I’m going — Rody
“I will fly to Lanao (on Wednesday). My advisers advise me to not go there but I am going simply because I am going there,” Duterte said.
“Even if its dangerous, if there’s no other way to go, I’d rather go by sea just to (get there),” he added.
The blast occurred when the President’s “advanced party” for his supposed trip to Marawi City which is near the occupied base of the terrorist Maute Group, also known as the Dawlah Islamiya or ‘Islamic State’, in Butig town.
PSG spokesman Col. Michael Aquino, in a text message to Palace reporters, refrained from confirming if the attack was meant for Duterte as the military has been intensifying its efforts against Islamic militants.
“[We] can’t say yet if the attack specifically targeted (President Duterte) as a result of ongoing operations in the area,” the PSG spokesman said.
“The security we have will be tight, wherever we go, we will not be careless, we are always on alert as well as our troops who are all adequately trained,” Aquino said.
Marawi City Police Chief Parson Asadil, in a text message to reporters, identified those who were wounded in the said ambush as PSG personnel Captain Zamora, Staff Sgt. Damaso, Corporal Inova, Corporal De Leon, Sgt. Garcia, PFC Gonzales and PFC Panisa, and; 65th Infantry Battalion escorts Cpl. Galintia and Cpl. Corpuz.
“All wounded personnel were immediately moved to 103rd Brigade Headquarters for air medical evacuation to the 4th Infantry Division hospital [in Cagayan de Oro City],” Asadil added.
The wounded were airlifted by a Presidential chopper. The PSG and Radio-Television Malacañang (RTVM) personnel are in Lanao del Sur in preparation for the visit of President Duterte today to get first-hand information on the ongoing offensive against the Maute terror group.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, meanwhile, said the foiled bombing near the US Embassy compound and the ongoing military operations against the Maute terror group in Lanao del Sur are not enough basis for the suspension of writ of habeas corpus.
“The operation against the Maute group is just normal military operations against lawless elements and the recovered bomb maybe are not enough reasons to suspend the writ of habeas corpus,” Lorenzana told reporters on the sidelines of the celebration of 77th anniversary of the Department of National Defense (DND).
Authorities are looking at the possibility that Maute group has a hand in the foiled bombing.
However, Lorenzana said that authorities could not confirm that the Maute group was behind the bomb attempt.
“We could not yet ascertain the source, there is no (group) coming out and taking responsibility,” said Lorenzana.
Earlier, the President warned that he might be forced to suspend the writ of habeas corpus if lawlessness in the country escalates.
Duterte cited the rebellion in Mindanao, the ongoing operations against the Maute group and the government’s all-out war against illegal drugs.
“If lawlessness becomes widespread, I might be forced to (suspend the writ),” the President said, stressing, however, that he is not inclined to declare martial law.
The defense chief, however, said that if he is asked for his recommendation he will not consider the suspension of writ of habeas corpus which would allow warrantless arrest.
“I would advise not to do that yet because it is still under control,” Lorenzana stressed.
The President has expressed dismay over the extent of illegal drugs problem in the country –admitting that the Philippines is now faced with “narco-politics” citing the alleged involved of government officials in the proliferation of illegal drugs.
Sen. Leila de Lima is accused of benefitting from the proliferation of illegal drugs during her stint as secretary of justice. She is accused of receiving campaign funds from drug lords detained at the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP).
Aside from de Lima, there were officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP) tagged by suspected drug lord Rolando Espinosa Jr., alias Kerwin, to have received “protection money” from him.
The President has a “narco-list” of government officials involved in the proliferation of illegal drugs reportedly composed of about 5,000 personalities, down to barangay level.
Since assuming office last July, Duterte ordered the PNP to address the illegal drug menace and criminality within six months.
So far, around 4,000 drug personalities had been killed during and outside police operations –more than 2,000 of them were victims of summary executions by unidentified perpetrators.
IS infiltration confirmed
The fight against the Maute group in Lanao del Sur is a fight against the international terror group Islamic State or ISIS, Duterte said.
In a speech at the Palace on Monday evening, Duterte bared intelligence reports confirming the links between the Maute group and the IS.
“The intelligence community advised me that IS is finally connected with the group in the Philippines called the Maute. There is a waging war now in Lanao,” Duterte said.
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said Duterte was “fully aware of the challenges on the ground hence he is taking bold steps to deal with them.”
Dureza said that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is cooperating with state forces in crushing the Maute group.
“It may be good for everyone to know that the ceasefire and ad hoc joint action group which are mechanisms of the Bangsamoro peace process are now operational to deal with the ground situation,” Dureza said in a text message to reporters.
“So far, the MILF forces in joint coordination with goverment security forces are handling the developments. Even the provisions for the affected evacuees are being assisted by the MILF to support govt’s efforts to assist those adversely affected by the on-going stand-off in the area,” he added.
Most Maute combatants, according to earlier reports, are composed of former MILF guerrillas and some foreign fighters led by Abdullah Maute.
The Manila Police District (MPD) also started the investigation on the IED which was reportedly abandoned by a man riding a taxi cab early dawn of Monday in front of the US embassy.
According to MPD Chief Sr. Supt Joel Coronel the MPD had obtained the footage taken from the US Embassy to identify who left the bomb.
“We are now reviewing the footages taken from 1 am to 7 am Monday, “ Coronel said
Based on he testimony of a witness, at around 2:30 am an unidentified man aboard a taxi dumped a box loaded with the IED in a trash bin near the US embassy.
The PNP crime laboratory said an artist sketch of the suspect was already made based on the description of a male witness.
Rody wants to dialog with Maute group
Instead of violently confronting the terrorist Maute group, Duterte yesterday said that he willmake “friends” with them.
In a chance interview after the inauguration of the Drug Mega Rehabilitation center here, Duterte said that his plan is to be amicable with the Islamic militants.
“I won’t fight them. I’m making friends with the Maute,” the President told reporters.
The Maute group which is believed to have perpetrated the deadly Davao City blast last September which prompted Duterte to place the entire nation under the state of national emergency.
During his speech, the Chief Executive stressed that although he has the option to purge Mindanao-based Islamic terrorists harshly, it is not his option yet.
“You know, there is really no problem. I can order the invasion of Jolo and give the order, ‘the last man standing.’
I can burn Jolo, I can burn Basilan. Bomb everything there. But what would it bring us? If you think that I will wipe out humanity there, we will at last enjoy the blessings of peace?” he said.
“What you will get in return with the terrorism?... There’s no doubt about it, I can fight the whole year round. The government has mone. But for how long? And at what cost?” Duterte added.
The President said that he is avoiding bloody confrontations under his watch as a sort of legacy to make his home-island of Mindanao a peaceful place.
Martial law looms - solon
Duterte is now floating the idea of declaring Martial Law starting with the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.
According to Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano the move is evident in the persistent statements by Presidential Chief Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo about Duterte’s plan to suspend the writ of habeas corpus.
“I think he (Panelo) has the blessing of the President, otherwise he would be told to stop talking), Alejano, a former Marines officer, said.
Alejano maintained that which Panelo is doing is to condition the minds of the people particularly for millennials who have not had the experience of Martial Law.
Alejano posited that included in the trial balloons is the burial of former President Marcos. He said that the Duterte government is watching whether the people are going accept or continue to protest.
“So its just a test if the present generation is willing to accept martial law right now,” the Magdalo lawmaker said.
Alejano also charged that the figures relative to the illegal drug trade has been bloated by the Duterte administration from 3-million to 5-million drug addicts in a bid to sway the people’s objection to the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus. Ted Tuvera, Mario J. Mallari, Pat C. Santos, Gerry Baldo
AFP: 49 Maute members killed in ongoing Butig purge Number of injured soldiers rises to 20 as fighting continues 0 SHARES Share it! Updated November 29, 2016, 6:25 PM By Francis Wakefield
Philippine troops fire their 105mm howitzer cannons towards enemy positions from their base near Butig town in Lanao del Sur province on the southern island of Mindanao on November 27, 2016. RICHEL UMEL / AFP / Manila Bulletin
As many as 49 members of the Maute group are now killed in the offensive to retake parts of Butig, Lanao del Sur that the radical group has occupied since Thursday, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said.
Marine Col. Edgard A. Arevalo, AFP public affairs chief, made an update on the casualty count based on the latest information they have received from the ground as of 4:00 p.m.
He added that soldiers have already entered the area where the militants are occupying abandoned buildings such the old municipal hall, mosque and school building.
Duterte: ‘I am going to Marawi…I am just simply going there’. President Rodrigo R. DuterteL The President has decided to defy the security recommendation to postpone his Mindanao trip, saying he even plans to take the same route to Marawi City. And if something bad happens to him, the President assured the nation that Vice President Leni Robredo could ably assume the top government post. / Photo courtesy of Presidential Communications Office via Facebook / Manila Bulletin
The number of soldiers injured as the result of heavy fighting in the area has also risen to 20, Arevalo said in an earlier ambush interview after the 77th anniversary of the Department of National Defense in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.
Philippine troops fire their 105mm howitzer cannons towards enemy positions from their base near Butig town in Lanao del Sur province on the southern island of Mindanao on November 27, 2016. Troops on November 27 fired artillery at positions held by an Islamic militant faction in the southern Philippines as more soldiers deployed against the group, which staged a deadly bombing in President Rodrigo Duterte's home city.
Arevalo said as of Tuesday, troops are continuously but cautiously advancing to purge the Maute group members from the abandoned municipal building and other facilities the group occupied in Butig.
“Our soldiers are entering the area with caution because there are snipers, there are possibilities of improvised explosive devices (IED) along the way so they need to be very cautious,” he said.
“They are continuing with their resistance but we will continue and we will press on to ensure that we will frustrate their intention to get mileage and to convince other people to join them,” he added.
Link with ISIS
Meanwhile, defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana is also not discounting the possibility that the Maute Group has links with the Islamic State.
“Yeah, it seems that there is a link between the two because the Maute Group sometimes show the ISIS flag,” Lorenzana told reporters during a press briefing, saying the information about the possible links came from the intelligence community on which President Rodrigo Duterte also has access.
Read more: Duterte bares Maute–IS links
But Lorenzana admitted they have yet to establish if both groups have formal links or if the Maute group receives logistical support.
RELATED FROM PHILSTAR
Duterte: ISIS 'has connected' with Maute group By Alexis Romero (philstar.com) | Updated November 29, 2016 - 8:45am 2 55 googleplus0 0
President Duterte said the intelligence community has told him that ISIS has established "connections" with the Maute group. Philstar.com/Bing maps
MANILA, Philippines — International terrorist group Islamic State has entered the Philippines and has links with the Maute group, which has occupied parts of a Lanao del Sur town, President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday.
Security forces have launched offensives to flush out the Maute group from parts of Butig town, forcing thousands to flee their homes.
According to reports, the Maute group — also called Dawlah Islamiya — raised an ISIS black flag in a building near the town hall and some houses.
The military reported Monday that the flag had been pulled down and soldiers raised a Philippine flag after troops retook the area.
Military officials could not say though whether the militants have direct links to the international terror network The link between the two groups was confirmed by no less than the president Monday evening.
“The intelligence community advised me that ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) has…connected with the group in the Philippines called the Maute. There is a waging war now in Lanao,” Duterte said during the ceremonial switch-on of a power plant in Malacañang.
The president said he is set to visit the Lanao del Sur capital of Marawi but did not say when. A Palace source, however, said Duterte would go to Lanao del Sur to show support for the troops fighting the Maute terrorists.
Prior to Duterte’s pronouncement, security officials described the Maute group as “ISIS-inspired.”
The group, which has pledged loyalty to ISIS, is led by brothers Omar and Abdullah Maute and is composed of former Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters.
About 200 members of the local terrorist group occupied parts of Butig town last Saturday, prompting the armed forces to launch security operations.
At least 19 Maute group members were killed and five others were injured during recent clashes with government forces, according to military officials.
RRELATED(2) FROM THE BUSINESS WORLD ONLINE
Duterte ready to talk to Abu Sayyaf 0 0 Google +0 0 Posted on November 26, 2016
PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte on Friday said he is “ready” to talk with Abu Sayyaf bandits, after initially rejecting such a move.
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“I’m ready to talk to them,” Mr. Duterte said in a news conference yesterday after paying a visit on soldiers wounded in action in Zamboanga City. “I’m ready to open the borders down south.”
The Abu Sayyaf, with strongholds in the islands off Mindanao mainland in the southwest such as Sulu, continues to carry out kidnapping activities despite an intensive campaign launched by government troops to subdue the group since July, upon the order of Mr. Duterte.
But on Friday, Mr. Duterte stressed that he can invade and bomb the group’s “even now” except he would rather talk to them. Using force would not bring peace to conflicted areas in Mindanao, he said.
“I can call all the military, the Armed Forces of Philippines to go [to an] all-out war and invade Sulu but I cannot do that because there will be huge losses pati (including) civilians which is really what matters most -- the civilians,” he said, asking: “Would it bring us peace if I use force?”
In his speech in Vietnam in September, the chief executive said he would not include the terrorist group in the ongoing peace talks between the government and rebels, adding that “as a matter of principle, I’d rather fight [them].”
“I do not want also to offend Islam. But as long as I am President, there will be no peace talks that would include the Abu Sayyaf,” he blurted out.
The Duterte administration has initiated renewed peace negotiations with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), including the faction led by its founding Chair Nur Misuari, who is facing charges for the Zamboanga siege in 2013, which left hundreds dead, families homeless, and parts of the city in ruins. -- Ian Nicolas P. Cigaral
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