It’s been more than a week since the Maute group took over Marawi and civilians are still trapped on the battleground. The IS inspired Maute group and the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) are still fighting and thus far, thirty-seven AFP have lost their lives. The death toll involving civilians has already reached more than one-hundred-fifty. The clearing operations of Marawi City continues but 1,000 civilians have yet to leave the city.
Clearing Deadline Extended as Conditions Moved from Bad to Worse
Last week, AFP announced that their clearing operations would be delayed due to unforeseen circumstances. AFP spokesman Brigadier General Restituto Padilla announced that the Army needs more time to defeat the rebels. Padillia further explained that he and the rest of the AFP will move forward with their mission and will not leave until the entire region of Marawi is free from the terrorist group.
“Based on reports we are getting, I don’t think we can meet the deadline today to completely free Marawi of every single armed element in every street,” Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Brigadier General Restituto Padilla said in a Palace news briefing on Friday. Until such time that every member of this armed group, this rebellious group that still wants to make a stand inside Marawi, exists, we cannot totally say we have cleared Marawi,” added Padilla.
What Does the President Have to Say?
In the light of the ongoing terror in Marawi, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is working on having the siege contained. During a recent news gathering, Duterte mentioned that as much as the government and army would want to expedite the process in having the entire situation contained, they would not be able to do so because hundreds of civilians might be affected.
Duterte cited the Geneva Convention, and explained that extreme caution must be observed to limit causalities. He mentioned that the military could drop many bombs during an airstrike, but he worried about the collateral damage that such an act would cause.
The Philippine President also added that the military could successfully finish the war in 24 hours by bombing Marawi to the ground but the Philippines is part of the United Nations and a signatory to the Geneva convention so again, such an act is impossible.
“We choose to be in government so we are always in jeopardy. But that’s beside the point. The point is we are fighting for a principle and that is what it is, but to say that we would lose (this), that’s impossible. It will just take a longer period (to win),” Duterte said, pointing out that unlike terrorists, government forces need to adhere to the Geneva Convention and lessen collateral damage.
Most Marawi residents fled their hometown but there were still many more that refused to leave when they had the chance. On June 4th, the army declared a humanitarian ceasefire in Marawi. The ceasefire lasted for four hours and ran from 8am to 12 noon.
AFP chief of staff, General Eduardo Ano has approved a so-called humanitarian pause to give way to relief distribution, the recovery of the wounded and slain, and the rescue of trapped civilians, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson, Brigadier-General Restituto Padilla, mentioned in a statement. “This will only last until this morning. There are requests for the cease fire to be extended for several days, but we cannot do that because we are still addressing several threats.”
The cease fire only lasted for four hours but Padilla and his team were happy with the result. Though they were able to provide the aid that the Marawi residents needed, two soldiers were wounded. He mentioned that two AFP members who were escorting the humanitarians in the area were hit by terrorist gunfire. One of the civilians was also hit by a sniper from the Maute group.
“We are very happy with the results of the 4-hour humanitarian pause that was initiated yesterday from 8 o’clock to 12 noon. However, it is saddening to note that despite the efforts of third party facilitators, there were violations committed by these criminals in the area,” Restituto Padilla said during a “Mindanao Hour” briefing in Malacanang.
Is the Maute Group Funded By Foreign Aid?
A breaking news update released by CNN Philippines revealed that the APF troops recovered 52.2 million pesos in cash and 27 million pesos of stale checks. These items were found inside a vault while they were doing a house-to-house clearing operations.
Jo-Ar Herrera, the spokesperson of Task Force Marawi also revealed that they were able to seize machine guns and high-powered ammunition, including M-16 rifles during the clearing. As of the latest announcement, it remains uncertain as to who the home-owner is, but they suspect that it is a Maute group member.
“The Maute group, they have defensive positions. They have a very capable group. But the recovery of those millions of cash indicate that they are running, because the government troops are pressing in,” Marine Major Rowan Rimas said.
Editors Note: One Philippines
The siege is getting worse and thousands of Marawi residents are still trapped. It breaks my heart to know that the most that I can do is to donate some of what I have and raise awareness. I know for a fact that we, in Visayas, are greatly blessed to have the protection from the Almighty. Our hearts bleed for our brothers and sisters who are going through the commotion that no one expected. I, as a Filipino, might not be able to make an impact in terms of unity and bayahihan, but if we work together to help our countrymen, we can definitely make a huge impact.
Call to Action from Rappler:
If you want to help internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Marawi City or if you have reports about their humanitarian needs like temporary shelter, relief goods, water, and hygiene kits, post them on the Agos map, text to 2929 (SMART and SUN), or tag MovePH on Twitter or Facebook. You may also link up with other organizations that called for donations.
Written by Abbie Uychiat
Abbie Uychiat studied BS Psychology and is an aspiring independent film director based in the Philippines. She is a dreamer and is juggling the joys of single motherhood, her career as a recruitment specialist and a freelance writer. Part of her mission is to provide a better and cleaner Philippines for the future generation.