The recent visit of President Rodrigo Duterte here has lifted the morale of troops who have been battling the Maute group and Abu Sayyaf bandits for two months now.
“We are very happy that finally he was able to get through despite the risk of weather and sniper fires and grazing bullets. We are very happy. Our soldiers are very much inspired and honored,” Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, Western Mindanao Command chief, on Saturday told the Philippine News Agency.
Galvez is the overall military commander overseeing the offensive against the Islamic State for Iraq and Syria (ISIS)-inspired Maute group and Abu Sayyaf bandits.
The visit of the Commander-in-Chief in this besieged city last Thursday is the the third following two failed attempts due to inclement weather condition.
The trip was unannounced and only made public when the President left this city.
Clad in a military uniform, President Duterte stayed here for at least four hours.
He was briefed by the ground commanders on the development of the ongoing military operations.
In his speech, the President became emotional as he hailed the troops for giving their ultimate service to free this city from the terrorist groups.
“It is like a father checking on his sons and daughters who selflessly offer themselves to restore peace in Marawi City,” Lt. Col. Jo-Ar Herrera, Joint Task Force Marawi spokesperson, said.
The crisis started on May 23, when roughly 700 members of the Maute group and Abu Sayyaf bandits occupied this city in an attempt to declare this place as their caliphate.
As of Friday, the death toll has reached to 600. At least 427 terrorists have been killed, while government forces suffered 99 deaths.
About 45 killed civilians have also been killed either in the cross fire or execution by the terrorists.
The ongoing fighting has triggered a humanitarian crisis with more than 200,000 individuals have flead this city and now staying at several evacuation sites.
At present, 41 registered evacuees have died at the evacuation centers due to illnesses.
Herrera said it is estimated that the numbers of the terrorists is around 60 to 70 who continue to holed up in the conflict zone. (DWTW/PNA)
Maute Group terrorists killed in the Marawi City fighting, now on its 61st day, stands at 428 as of 2 p.m. Saturday.
The number of military personnel killed in the ongoing efforts to clear the city of remaining Maute Group terrorists is 105, said Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo.
The lawless elements executed 45 civilians while government troopers recovered 526 Maute weapons and rescued 1,723 hostages.
Fighting in Marawi City started last May 23 when goverment troops tried to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader and ISIS “emir” in Southeast Asia, Isnilon Hapilon. (Priam F. Nepomuceno/PNA)
President Rodrigo Duterte wants Proclamation No. 216 declaring Martial in Mindanao extended to 60 days.
The Senate and the House of Representatives will meet in joint session on July 22 to discuss the extension that Duterte asked during a meeting with senators and congressmen on July 17.
Proclamation No. 216, constitutionally limited to 60 days, was issued by Duterte on May 23 as Maute Group terrorists attacked and occupied parts of Marawi City on May 22, ends on July 22.
Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel said the President asked “sixty days of martial law extension and still over entire Mindanao,” according to Rappler.
Pimentel, who was in the meeting with House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and some majority senators and congressmen, sent the information through text message in response to an inquiry on the President’s position on martial law, said Rappler.
According to Rappler, Pimentel said Duterte also requested that the Senate and Hous convene in joint session on July 22 to discuss his request for extension of Proclamation No. 216.
Fetullah Gulen Movement declared as terrorist organization by Turkey
BY ROGER M. BALANZA
A terrorist group from Turkey is operating schools in the Philippines, according to Turkish Ambassador Esra Cankorur.
Cankorur said the Fetullah Gulen Movement runs a school in Zamboanga City and two others in Manila.
Malacañang on Thursday said the government is verifying the claims made by the Turkish ambassador over the presence of the Turkish terror group in the Philippines, according to state-owned Philippine News Agency (PNA)’.
The Gulen movement was classified as a terrorist organization by the Turkish government in 2015.
The Turkish government blames the movement for the 2016 failed coup attempt against President Recept Tayyip Erdogan.
Like the Middle East-based Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS or IS), considered as today’s most violent terrorist organization, the Gulen Movement has also been accused of having global, apocalyptic ambition to establish strongholds all over the world.
ISIS aims to establish a “global Islamic state” and has linked up with local terrorist groups in the Philippines like the Abu Sayyaf and Maute Group. The terrorist attack and occupation of Marawi City on May 22 was reportedly a prelude to creating Mindanao as a caliphate of the ISIS.
Founded by Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen, the Gulen Movement is known as an Islamic transnational religious and social movement.
Gulen is now based in the United States.
The movement has attracted supporters in Turkey, Central Asia, and other parts of the world. It is active in education with private schools and universities in over 180 countries.
The revelation of Cankorur that the Gulen Movement runs schools in the Philippines is an affirmation of this mission by the Turkish terror group to export its influence in foreign shores.
The Gulen Movement has substantial investments in media, finance, and for-profit health clinics.
Before being outlawed as a terrorist organization, the Gulen Movement has strong influence in Turkish politics, the judiciary, military and police, and business.
Despite its teachings that are considered conservative even in Turkey, some have praised the movement as a pacifist, modern-oriented version of Islam, and as an alternative to more extreme schools of Islam.
But like the ISIS, the movement has also been accused of having “global, apocalyptic ambition.”
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement said “the military is verifying the statement of Cankorur regarding the presence of Turkish terrorists, particularly the Fetullah Gulen Movement, in the Philippines,” according to PNA.
The Palace official assured that the Philippine government does not tolerate any group found aiding terrorists and will hold them accountable.
“We will investigate organizations abetting or aiding terrorism and will hold them accountable, especially those that may be working as fronts for terrorist and criminal activities, as alleged by the Ambassador,” he said.
“We are also working closely with all other nations to combat terrorism. This is now a global threat that can be better addressed through a unified effort,” Abella said.
Earlier, Cankorur said that the Fetullah Gulen Movement is “active” here through a school in Zamboanga, opened in 1997, and two other schools in Manila.
In a televised interview, the Turkish ambassador claimed that “the movement also has foundations on the cultural side.”
“This is their facade, thinking them as civic education institutions and innocent charity organizations. That will be a huge mischaracterization; that is wrong. They are the facade. They talk about inter-faith dialogue, but they are concealing themselves,” she said during the interview.
She said the group’s presence in the Philippines is “a bad thing” because it is a “terrorist group.”