The Daily Manila Shimbun


Marawi 90% cleared, but martial law to continue even after crisis : military spokesman

May 31, 2017

Marawi City is “90 percent completely cleared” from the Islamic State-linked Maute Terror Group but martial law will continue in Mindanao even after the crisis is resolved, a military spokesman said on Wednesday. Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, in the "Mindanao Hour" press briefing in Malacanang, said that based from the reports from the ground  the remaining 10 percent uncleared areas would be most likely "be heavily guarded and defended by any of these armed men if they are protecting any individual of high value." At least 129 people have been killed in Marawi. Of the fatalities, 19 were civilians, 89 terrorists, and 21 government troopers. Padilla said martial law will continue to be enforced because the military has to address also the terror threat in other parts of Mindanao. "It doesn't mean that after Marawi, we won't give any attention to other places. We have to give attention to those in Marawi because most of them (terrorists) did not come from Marawi," he said, noting that residents of Marawi are peace-loving and industrious. He recalled even before the declaration of martial law in Mindanao, President Rodrigo Duterte had warned if he imposed martial rule, he would finish all problems in the troubled island. "It’s the whole and complete picture of the security situation in Mindanao," he said, citing the threat posed by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, a splinter group of the rebel Moro Islamic Liberation Front, operating in Maguindanao-Cotabao area, and the kidnap-for-ransom Abu Sayyaf Group in Basilan, Jolo and Tawi-Tawi. "So, by and large, they are still in the areas and we haven’t addressed them completely. So they need to be looked into and addressed completely before we can definitely say that we have addressed all the security problems in Mindanao," he said. But he added the final decision to keep martial law remains in the hands of the political leaders. Meanwhile, about 1,000 residents are reportedly trapped in Marawi based on the statement of the local government, Padilla said. He advised those trapped to follow certain procedures so they could be safely secured by the military and to avoid any collateral damage. "So we would like to guarantee and assure them that we are doing all we can to avoid any collateral damage that may ensue from this violent activity. The notice from our ground commanders to ensure that nothing of that sort comes out is this advice," he said. "If you are trapped in areas of conflict and you are aware of the presence of our military forces, please follow the following procedure: First, please prepare a white cloth, your white cloth that you may have your hand on and raise this white flag in the area where you are." "When you see our soldiers approaching, come out, first women and children with their hands up. When they signal, you stay in the area where you are and only move when you are asked to move forward. Once told to move forward, please follow the instructions of our forces. Then the rescue procedures will begin," Padilla said. Authorities have rescued over 960 individuals from the area of conflict since violence broke out on May 23. With the surgical airstrikes of the military, Padilla expressed confidence no civilians were killed. "We are confident that we have not had any collateral damage in the use of airstrike," he said, adding that the government forces have been "judicious" in using their weapons. "Our rules of engagements have not changed. We put priority on civilian lives and private property. The amount of force that we are using right now in the area is commensurate only to the resistance and the enemy force that we are facing. We are not going to use any more than that and employ military power only as needed," he said. (Celerina Monte/DMS)