Around 10 members of the Islamic State-linked Maute group have snuck into Marawi City to reinforce comrades battling state forces in the conflict zone, multiple sources told ABS-CBN News
MANILA, Philippines – President Duterte has suspended the military offensive in Marawi, citing concerns over the safety of some 300 civilians being held by Islamic militants still holed up in some parts of the besieged city.
“We will finish it. We are not joking. Until the last terrorist is taken out, the war will continue. They have 300 hostages there and that is what is delaying (the operations),” the President said in his second State of the Nation Address.
“Sabi ko, huwag mo muna i-assault (I said, hold off the assault) if possible. We just have to wait it out,” he added.
The safety of the civilians, he pointed out, is the primary consideration of government forces.
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(Updated, 12:51 p.m.) President Rodrigo Duterte wants the extension of martial law in Mindanao until the end of the year, his spokesman said Tuesday.
Duterte, in a letter to Congress, said the “existing rebellion” in Mindanao would not end on July 22, the 60th day in the limit prescribed by the Constitution.
“Upon a thorough personal assessment of the current situation in Marawi City and other parts of Mindanao and taking into account the reports and recommendations of the Secretary of National Defense as martial law administrator, the chief-of-staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as martial law implementor and the chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), I have come to the conclusion that the existing rebellion in Mindanao which prompted me to issue Proclamation 216 on 23rd May 2017, will not be quelled completely by the 22nd July 2017 – the last day of 60-day period provided under Section 18 Article VII of the 1987 Constitution,” Duterte said in a message read by Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella in a Palace briefing.
“For this reason and because public safety requires it, I call upon the Congress to extend until 31st December 2017 or for such a period of time as the Congress may determine the proclamation of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in the whole of Mindanao,” Duterte’s message added.
MANILA, Philippines — Washington has offered to send two surveillance aircraft to assist the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations against terrorists, the US ambassador said Tuesday.
US Ambassador Sung Kim said that two Cessna 208 planes will be turned over to the Philippine government in a couple of weeks.
Kim stressed that the US is deeply concerned about the security situation in Marawi City, where government forces have been fighting against local terror groups for more than eight weeks now.
“We have been providing a very important support to the Armed Forces of the Philippines in terms of information sharing, intelligence sharing, training, technical advice as well as equipment grants,” Kim said in an interview with ANC’s Headstart.
The US envoy also noted that American troops are present in Mindanao under the mutual defense treaty between the two countries.
Kim added that the US is committed to helping with the rehabilitation program for Marawi.