Fresh troops, composed of an Army battalion, were sent to Marawi City to augment government forces fighting Islamic State (IS)-inspired terrorists.
Lt. Col. Arnel Cabugon, public affairs officer of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (ID), said the 82nd Infantry Battalion (IB) was redeployed to Marawi City from Iloilo City.
Cabugon said that members of the 82nd IB, led by Lt. Col. Vener Morga, flew to Marawi City last Saturday.
“The 82IB was redeployed to Mindanao area as follow-on-forces to augment operating troops of the Western Mindanao Command in suppressing the Marawi rebellion,” said Cabugon.
An Army battalion is composed of 300 to 500 soldiers.
The deployment of the 82nd IB in Marawi City was ordered as IS-inspired terrorists, led by Isnilon Hapilon and the Maute group, continued to put up resistance against advancing government troops.
The military said that only four of the 96 barangays in Marawi City are considered problematic areas where the terrorists still offers resistance.
According to the military, about 200 terrorists were still holed up in highly-fortified buildings in Marawi City, and using mosques and madrasahs as safe havens and innocent civilians as human shields.
Soldiers, operating under Joint Task Force Marawi, and various police units are jointly conduction operations to flush out the terrorists from the Islamic city.
Cabugon said that 3rd IDcommander Maj. Gen. Jon Aying and Antique Gov. Rhodora Cadiao led the send off ceremony for 82nd IB.
Aying, in his speech, urged the soldiers to focus, build teamwork and trust, and exhibit the desired military discipline at all times so that they could effectively work and fight as a team, squad, platoon, company and battalion as well.
The Marawi City siege, now entering its fourth week, started last May 23 when government forces attempted to arres Hapilon, the acknowledged emir or leader of the IS in Southeast Asia.
The conflict has resulted in the killing of more than 300 terrorists, government troops and even civilians.
The Department of Justice (DoJ) yesterday conducted an inquest proceeding against suspected Maute terrorist group member and bomb manufacturer Mohammad Naoim Maute, alias Abu Jadid, for charges of rebellion.
Justice Undersecretary Erickson Balmes said the inquest was conducted inside the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG)–Region 10 conference room at Camp Evangelista in Cagayan De Oro City.
The suspected bomb manufacturer was accompanied by two lawyers from the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) during the proceeding, Balmes said.
An inquest is an informal and summary investigation conducted by the public prosecutor in a criminal case involving persons arrested and detained without the benefit of a warrant of arrest.
The inquest establishes whether the evidence is sufficient enough to seek court approval to keep the person in detention.
Jadid, 22, a suspected improvised explosive devices (IED) manufacturer, and a cousin of Maute group leaders Omar and Abdullah Maute, was apprehended last June 15.
He was captured by elements of the Martial Law Special Action Group (ML-SAG) during an operation in Sitio Sta. Cruz, Barangay Macasandig in Cagayan de Oro City at around 6:30 a.m.
Based on a police report, Jadid was using a fake ID of Mindanao State University bearing the name of Alfaiz Mamintal to get through checkpoints.
Jadid is included in the Arrest Order 1 issued by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, martial law administrator in Mindanao, against those suspected of rebellion in the Marawi terror attacks.
In the DoJ’s campaign to prosecute suspected rebels, Ominta Romato “Farhana” Maute, the mother of the Maute group’s leaders, former Marawi City mayor Fahad Salic, and nine others have already been charged for the non-bailable offense of rebellion.
The criminal charges were filed before the Cagayan de Oro City Regional Trial Court (RTC).
This after government prosecutors found probable cause to accuse the respondents of rebellion after they underwent inquest proceedings at Camp Evangelista, headquarters of the Philippine Army 4th Infantry Division, in Cagayan De Oro City.
All 11 accused were included in the list of over 300 individuals identified as members of the Maute group, the Abu Sayyaf group, and their sympathizers earlier ordered arrested by the government for the crime of rebellion.
Salic was apprehended last Friday in Misamis Oriental. He was included in the Department of National Defense’s (DND) arrest order number two.
Authorities confiscated from Salic four units of M203 grenade, one M16 rifle loaded with 29 pieces of live ammunition and three pieces of long magazine with each loaded with 30 pieces of 5.56 live ammunition.
Farhana and nine others were arrested last Friday in Masiu, Lanao Del Sur.
They were caught in possession of one M14 rifle, seven M14 magazine assembly, 136 M14 live ammunition, one scope, two rifle grenades, two improvised rocket propelled grenades and two smoke grenades.
Leila seeks stepped up rescue bid
Senator Leila de Lima yesterday urged the government to step up efforts in rescuing the remaining 300 to 1,700 civilians who are still trapped and yet to be rescued in Marawi City.
As the firefight between the military and Maute group continues, some of the trapped civilians who are reported to be already low on food and water supply were forced to eat cardboard boxes to survive, De Lima noted.
There were also reports that the Maute fighters have been using some civilians to either cook or carry ammunitions for them and had also allegedly recruited children, those already orphans of Muslim rebels, to fight along with them.
“This is now a humanitarian issue because a substantial number of innocent civilians are still trapped in the conflict areas. Some of them lack food to eat and clean water to drink, if they are lucky enough to survive the heavy exchanges of fire,” she said.
De Lima noted that affected residents have already lost their properties and livelihood while children’s education, health and social welfare are adversely affected.
“Such are the horrors of war that have become so costly for all of us,” she said.
De Lima expressed grave concern over the safety of the civilians as the military go on a heightened military operations against the ISIS-inspired Maute group.
The former justice secretary also noted the increasing number of internally-displaced persons (IDPs) who are also suffering in the crowded evacuation areas outside Marawi City with a bleak future for their families and children once the conflict ends.
Although Marawi City has a population of over 200,000 people, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) reported that as of June 13, about 65,198 families or 316,684 individuals have been displaced from Marawi City and Marantao in Lanao del Sur, 14,772 of whom are reportedly staying in 68 evacuation centers.
About 9,252 families or 43,159 individuals have also been evacuated from Marawi City to Iligan City where the local government unit has reportedly converted a covered court in Bgy. Buru-un as an evacuation center.
Noting that a regular covered court could only accommodate 50 families, De Lima said these evacuation areas are heavily congested at a greater risk to the health and sanity of the thousands of IDPs and their families and children.
To date, at least 290 people have reportedly died since the fighting began in May 23, which includes 206 militants, 58 soldiers and 26 civilians.
Julius N. Leonen, Angie M. Rosales