The Daily Manila Shimbun


Military says MSU in Marawi to open next week; welcomes issuance of fatwas by religious leaders

August 18, 2017

Mindanao State University in war-torn Marawi City will open next week after it was cleared of any explosive device which could have been left by the Islamic State-inspired Maute terror group, a military spokesman said on Friday.

In the "Mindanao Hour" briefing, Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr. said MSU will be opened on Tuesday, August 22.  He said classes will soon resume.

He said the local government units, the MSU community, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police are busy helping prepare the whole campus and its environs as well as residents for the return to normal of the state-run university.

"We will be facilitating and providing transportation for 800 balik-eskwela students of MSU from the current areas they are now in in Iligan and vicinity back to MSU itself," Padilla said.

MSU was closed since May 23 when the Maute terrorists attacked and started occupying Marawi, prompting President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law in the whole of Mindanao.

The AFP also welcomed the issuance of two "fatwas" by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the religious groups in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Padilla said the fatwas are "very critical ingredients in our program to fight and prevent the spread of violent extremism and radicalism."

Government officials earlier admitted some youths in Marawi have been idolizing the terrorists.

Padilla said military operations in Marawi have been "progressing very well."The main battle area has been reduced to just over half a kilometer grid square," he said.

Last week, Padilla said the government troopers were trying to clear about one square kilometer of Marawi.  But he corrected his number as to the Maute terrorists who remain in the area.

From earlier 20 to 40, he said the "best estimate is that the enemy remains at about 50 to 60," he said, noting that the hostages are believed to be still at "30 plus."

As of August 18, the number of enemies killed rose to 573, while from the government side, 128. Celerina Monte/DMS