Displaying items by tag: Marawi

Explosions rock Marawi as flag raised in city to mark Independence Day

By Neil Jerome Morales and Simon Lewis, Reuters

Photo: A military helicopter flies past a mosque in Marawi City in southern Philippines May 28, 2017. Erik De Castro, Reuters
Bomb blasts rocked Marawi City in the southern Philippines on Monday as the national flag was raised to mark independence day, almost three weeks after hundreds of Islamist militants overran the town and hunkered down with civilians as human shields.

Rescue workers, soldiers and firemen sang the national anthem and listened to speeches as three OV-10 attack aircraft darted through the cloudy sky, taking it in turns to drop bombs on areas where fighters are still holed up.

“To our Muslim brothers there, we want to tell them to stop their meaningless fight because we are all Muslims,” Vice Provincial Governor Mamintal Adiong Jr. told the gathering.

Flag ceremonies are normally performed twice a week, but this was the first in the mainly Muslim town since May 23, the first day of the siege, when the militants killed and abducted Christians, and torched a cathedral.

Almost the entire population of about 200,000 fled from the lakeside town on the Philipppines’ southernmost island of Mindanao, but beyond the checkpoints fencing it off there are still some 500-1,000 civilians trapped or being held hostage.

As of Saturday the number of security forces killed in the battle for Marawi stood at 58. The death toll for civilians was 20 and more than 100 had been killed overall.

The seizure of Marawi by fighters allied to Islamic State, including some from the Middle East, has alarmed Southeast Asian nations which fear the ultra-radical group – on a backfoot in Iraq and Syria – is trying to set up a stronghold on Mindanao that could threaten their region.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte said on Sunday he had not expected the battle for Marawi to be as serious as it has turned out, adding it had now emerged “that Baghdadi himself, the leader of the ISIS, has specifically ordered terroristic activities here in the Philippines”.

Duterte did not say how he knew that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, whose movement is commonly referred to as ISIS, had given instructions for the attack on Marawi.

PLAN TO TAKE OTHER CITIES FOILED

Foreign Affairs Minister Allan Peter Cayetano said in an independence day speech in Manila that the militants’ had planned to take over at least two or three cities in Mindanao.

Their plot was foiled because troops made a preemptive raid on Marawi to capture Isnilon Hapilon, leader of the Abu Sayyaf group and Islamic State’s “emir” of Southeast Asia.

“We want to coordinate very well with Indonesia and Malaysia so they won’t also suffer in the hands of extremists,” he said.

“But the president knew at the start of his term that, as the allies become more successful in Syria and Iraq, they (Islamic State) will be looking for a land base, and Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines will be a potential target to them.”

Washington said at the weekend it was providing support to the Armed Forces of the Philippines to clear the militants from pockets of Marawi. Manila said this was technical assistance and there were no U.S. “boots on the ground”.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said support included aerial surveillance and targeting, electronic eavesdropping, communications assistance and training. A U.S. P-3 Orion surveillance plane was seen over the town on Friday.

The cooperation between the longtime allies in the battle is significant because Duterte, who came to power a year ago, has taken a hostile stance towards Washington and has vowed to eject U.S. military trainers and advisers from his country.

The Pentagon has no permanent presence in the Philippines but for years has kept 50 to 100 special forces troops in the south of the country on rotational exercises.

Duterte said on Sunday he had not sought support from Washington to end the siege and had not been aware that U.S. special forces were assisting.

Cayetano said the government did not need to be involved in decisions on U.S. participation because of a bilateral visiting forces agreement and, with “events happening real time”, such matters are left to the armed forces and defense department. -Additional reporting by Karen Lema and Manuel Mogato in MANILA

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200 Marawi students transfer schools

By John Paul Jubelag (The Philippine Star) | 

 

The Department of Education (DepEd) has reported that at least 200 affected students in war-torn Marawi City have enrolled in Soccsksargen region schools since the opening of classes on Monday. AP/Bullit Marquez, File

 

 

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – The Department of Education (DepEd) has reported that at least 200 affected students in war-torn Marawi City have enrolled in Soccsksargen region schools since the opening of classes on Monday.

DepEd Region 12 director Arturo Bayocot said the enrollment of the transferees was reported by local division offices.

He said in Cotabato province, there were more than 50 enrollees from Marawi City while 40 others transferred to Sultan Kudarat province.

The rest, Bayocot said, were accommodated by schools in Koronadal City, General Santos City and South Cotabato province.

Bayocot also claimed they would still welcome students displaced from Marawi City and Lanao del Sur until June 30, including those who do not have proper documents.

“Because of this, we are encouraging the parents who are in the evacuation centers to bring their kids to the nearest public schools for their studies,” Bayocot said.

He claimed that the region currently has 1,096,320 students in 1,746 elementary schools and 499 secondary schools.

Given this figure, Bayocot clarified that the interest of the students to go to school was not actually affected by the implementation of martial law in Mindanao after the Maute group attacked Marawi City last May 23.

Some 44 students displaced by the fighting in Marawi have been accommodated in various public schools in Central Luzon after the DepEd granted special waivers on the usual requirements for school transferees.

DepEd regional information officer Michelle Catap said the students are now enrolled in schools in Angeles City, Zambales, Tarlac, Meycauayan City in Bulacan, Gapan City in Nueva Ecija, Olongapo City and Aurora.

DepEd has estimated that around 20,000 youths have been displaced this school year by the conflict in Marawi, where recovery would take time due to damage to buildings and other properties.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones has said DepEd encourages everyone, including those fighting for their cause, to respect schools as zones of peace and protect children to ensure that their learning will be shielded from conflict.

New peace corridor

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) reported yesterday that the composite team of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has opened another peace corridor to ensure the safe passage of noncombatants from Marawi City to Malabang, Lanao del Sur.

OPAPP said that humanitarian aid flowed through the corridor to civilians displaced by the Marawi crisis, to the nearby towns of Malabang, Madamba, Bubong, Masiu, Marantao and Ditsain Ramain in Lanao del Sur.

Several organizations deployed yesterday vans and trucks carrying food, medicine and other aid.

The ARMM Regional Command Center facilitated the deployment of medical doctors and supplies of the International Committee on the Red Cross in Tamparan, Lanao del Sur.

The United Bangsamoro Humanitarian Assistance distributed food to evacuation centers.

President Duterte approved the creation of the peace corridor to establish a secure route so that humanitarian assistance could pass through.

The first peace corridor was established in the three-kilometer Banggulo Bridge to Quezon Avenue in Marawi City that paved the way for the rescue of 134 trapped residents last Sunday.

Irene Santiago, chair of the government panel for the Bangsamoro peace accords, said the peace corridor is a joint effort of the government and MILF peace panels.

The government and the MILF are planning another rescue operation for the remaining 2,000 residents trapped in conflict areas in Marawi City.

“We are aiming to go farther and get as many trapped civilians as we can,” said presidential adviser on the peace process assistant secretary Dickson Hermoso.

This is the second attempt of the government and the MILF through its Joint Coordinating, Monitoring and Assistance Centre (JCMAC) to rescue trapped civilians.

The JCMAC rescued the civilians after officials were able to convince the military and the Maute group to observe a four-hour ceasefire to allow the rescue operations.

Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo has assured families displaced in clashes Marawi City that the government would continue providing assistance to them.

Based on latest figures, more than 222,000 people have been displaced by the clashes in Marawi City that started on May 23.

More than 18,000 are currently staying in evacuation centers, while a majority stay with relatives in nearby provinces.

“Thank you to all those who continue to send their donations to the evacuation centers housing our brothers and sisters displaced from Marawi,” Taguiwalo posted on her social media accounts.

She said the Department of Social Welfare and Development in Region 7 is continuously replenishing its stockpile to send more food packs to Iligan City for the evacuees from Marawi. – With Jose Rodel Clapano, Janvic Mateo, Evelyn Macairan, Ding Cervantes, Ben Serrano

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Kapatid for Marawi

NEGOSYO KAPATID: Angat Lahat By Joey Concepcion (The Philippine Star)

Saguiran Mayor Macmod Muti and Go Negosyo volunteer Joseph Castillo led the distribution of goods to all evacuees.
In this time of distress in our country caused by the recent acts of terror and violence in Marawi, we should all be one in praying that all these will be over. Marawi is the most populated city in ARMM region with more than 200,000 people including children and I do not think they deserve the danger they are experiencing for more than two weeks already.

To be able to share some hope and blessings, Go Negosyo decided to start a call for donations from our Kapatids who are all always ready to give and be part of a bigger solution.

After hearing the reports on Marawi and how our Maranao brothers needed assistance, we all sprung into action. Together with our Go Negosyo coordinator Ginggay Hontiveros, we called for the support of the big brothers. We launched the project: #KapatidForMarawi.

Numerous donations came from the following big brothers: RFM Corp., LBC led by Santi Araneta, Asia Brewery of Mike Tan, LandRover Club, SM Foundation led by Tessie Sy-Coson, Century Pacific of Chris Po, SL Agritech led by Henry Lim Bon Liong, and CDO Foodsphere of Corazon Dayro-Ong.

Medicines, pasta, milk and juices, water, canned goods, rice, and other essentials were donated by our Kapatids. Additionally, there are mats, blankets, and some clothes that are ready for distribution.

George Barcelon and Rex Daryanani led the participation of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Federation of the Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry respectively to the project.

 

 

Members of the recently launched Alliance Towards Prosperity for All such as Management Association of the Philippines, Financial Executives of the Philippines, Bankers Association of the Philippines, Makati Business Club, and others are all supportive of the Kapatid For Marawi initiative as well.

The distribution and transportation of products would have not been possible without the help of Joseph Castillo, Corporal Maglaum PA, Asec. Shalimar Candao, Operation Blessing, Angel Brigade, 4th ID Army Brigade Commander Major General Madrigal, COS Col. Andres Centino, CDO Mayor Oscar Moreno, Office of the CDO City Engineer and Paul Dominguez.

When our volunteer Joseph Castillo met some of our soldiers, he also handed some water and canned goods. I’m sure that this is just a temporary relief to our brave men but we hope this can give them additional strength.

These efforts of Go Negosyo Kapatids are part of our mission to bring prosperity alongside with our hopes of peace and harmony in Marawi City. Like our program Negosyo Para sa Kapayapaan sa Sulu, we aim to help areas experiencing extreme poverty and conflict scale up through the development programs in each area.

We are one with the government in its mission to eradicate terrorism in the country. As one nation, we should unite in supporting our soldiers, policemen, and local government units in their fight against the Maute group. We cannot progress if we are facing such issues. Without peace, there is no prosperity. We cannot start any development if the area we wish to change is troubled with armed groups.

The President and his team will surely do their best to eradicate this threat in the country. We pray for comfort to the people of Marawi. May they find relief with the goods we have sent.

For interested donors to the #KapatidForMarawi, you may get in touch with Go Negosyo coordinator Ginggay Hontiveros at 0908 898 0428 / 0917 524 9957 or Gelle Jimena 0917 312 7984 or 0999 887 9276.

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