THE military is checking reports that Maute terrorists are forcing their hostages to collect bombs in the battle zone in Marawi City, an Armed Forces spokesman said Sunday.
“We have reports on the ground that hostages are being used as human shields. They are using the hostages even for collecting bombs. These are things we need to verify,” said Lt. Col. Jo-Ar Herrera, speaking in Filipino.
There were also unconfirmed reports that the terrorists have killed several hostages, he added.
It is uncertain how many hostages are being held by the Maute group terrorists, but these include a priest, Chito Suganob, who was taken along with several churchgoers on May 23.
By the government’s count, 26 civilians have been killed by the Maute group.
Herrera said they were also validating reports that Isnilon Hapilon, the leader of Islamic State-allied terrorists in the Philippines, had already left Marawi City.
“Our take is that because he has not been heard giving orders to the troops on the ground, it’s possible that he is no longer in the conflict area,” Herrera said in Filipino.
Only Abdullah Maute, one of the Maute brothers who head the terrorist group, could be heard on military monitors, he added.
The military on Sunday observed an eight-hour ceasefire to enable Muslim residents to celebrate Eid’l Fitr.
Assistant Secretary Dickson Hermosa of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process said five rescue teams of Moro Islamic Liberation Front were to enter the conflict zone before the end of the ceasefire to look for trapped civilians.
In the Palace, Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said the deployment of a 404-foot supply and operation ship, the BRP Davao del Sur in Cotabato, would help quell the rebellion in Marawi.
“Apart from delivering military supplies and relief goods, the vessel will be utilized as a backup floating medical facility to treat the wounded,” Abella said.
“BRP Davao del Sur is also ready to provide the support required once the reconstruction, rehabilitation, and rebuilding of Marawi begins,” Abella added.
Rear Adm. Rene Medina, commander of Naval Force Western Mindanao, said the ship will help secure the coastal waters of Cotabato and serve as a staging pad of the Augusta Westland attack helicopters.
“Its presence will boost the security in the area,” Medina said.
The Justice department on Sunday said two arrested Abu Sayyaf members who provided medical treatment to wounded terrorists fighting in Marawi City have been subjected to inquest proceedings.
Jadzrie Harad Saabdula and Jamal Kalib Jamil were presented before the department’s special panel of prosecutors for inquest proceedings on rebellion charges.
The two Abu Sayyaf members were arrested pursuant to the arrest orders issued by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana as martial law administrator.
The DoJ’s special panel of prosecutors are expected to issue a resolution and file the case against the two before the Cagayan De Oro regional trial court, which was designated by the Supreme Court to hear the cases against the Maute terrorists.
The hearing was held last Saturday morning at Camp Evangelista in Cagayan De Oro City, where most of the arrested Maute terrorists are temporarily detained, Justice Undersecretary Erickson Balmes said.
Saabdula, 50, and Jamil, 18, were arrested Thursday while they were buying assorted medicines at a pharmacy in Pagadian City, Zamboanga del Sur.
Saabdula, a nurse at the Banguingui (former Tongkil town) municipal hospital who went on absence without leave, is the brother of slain Abu Sayyaf leader Nadzmi Saabdula alias Commander Global.
The two suspects—both from Sulu—were reportedly buying antibiotics, antibacterial, pain relievers and other types of post-traumatic medicines.
The Justice department has already indicted several arrested members and supporters of Maute group, including Cayamora Maute and Ominta Romato Maute, alias Farhana, parents of the Maute brothers who led the attack in Marawi City on May 23.
Also charged with rebellion before the Cagayan De Oro RTC were former Marawi City mayor Fajad Salic; Mohaamad Maute, alias Abu Jadid, alleged bomb maker of Maute group; and Faridah Pangompig Romato, Aljadid Pangompig Romato and Abdulralman Dimakuta Sevad, the three Maute members were intercepted by Coast Guard while on their way to Manila.
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