Palace: No deal with terrorists as policy

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THE government on Tuesday ruled out negotiations with the Maute group terrorists holed up in Marawi City.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the government policy not to negotiate with terrorists remains in place and that a meeting between local religious leaders and the terrorists on Sunday was not sanctioned.

“Let us continue to remind the public that the gravity of their offense is immense. They must all be held accountable for all their actions,” Abella said.

Abella said they were still verifying reports that Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon had fled Marawi City.

“Granting that this is true, it would be a clear sign of cowardice because he abandoned his companions and ran away from the battle,” Abella said.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella

“It may also be indicative of the infighting that may now be going within the group,” he added.

During the talks with religious leaders, terrorist boss Abdullah Maute reportedly offered to release his group’s hostage, Fr. Chito Suganob, in exchange for the release of his parents Farhana and Cayamora Maute, who were arrested this month.

On Monday, Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera, spokesperson of the Joint Task Force Marawi spokesperson, said that Suganob was seen alive by a civilian who was since been rescued from the war zone.

The Justice department on Tuesday rejected a reported offer from the Maute terrorists to exchange their hostage, the priest, for the Maute parents.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said the proposal made by Abdullah Maute should be rejected outright because it is not the policy of the government to negotiate with terrorists.

“The government never negotiates with terrorists,” Aguirre said, in a text message when sought for a comment on the reported offer to swap abducted Marawi priest Suganob for Cayamora and Ominta Maute.

Reports indicated that Abdullah made his offer to Muslim religious leaders who visited the conflict zone during the eight-hour ceasefire implemented by the military on Sunday.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines said Tuesday it was the government’s duty to negotiate for Suganob’s release.

On Tuesday, the department indicted the two arrested Abu Sayyaf members believed to have provided medical treatment to wounded terrorists fighting government troops in Marawi City.

After inquest proceedings last Saturday, the special panel of prosecutors filed the case for rebellion against Jadzrie Harad Saabdula and Jamal Kalib Jamil before the Cagayan De Oro City regional trial court yesterday afternoon.

Saabdula, 50, and Jamil, 18, were arrested on Thursday while they were purchasing in bulk assorted medicine 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 DoJ has already indicted several arrested members and supporters of Maute–including Cayamora Maute and Ominta Romato Maute, alias Farhana, parents of the Maute brothers who led the group behind the attack in Marawi City last 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.

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