MANILA, Philippines – Terrorists in Marawi City wounded two soldiers during the 4-hour humanitarian pause declared by the government on Sunday, June 4.
“It is saddening to note that, despite the efforts of 3rd party facilitators, there were violations committed by criminals in the area. They caused the wounding of two of our men who were escorting the humanitarians into the area,” said Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Brigadier General Restituto Padilla on Monday, June 5.
He was holding a press conference at the Palace alongside Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella.
The humanitarian pause from 8 am to noon on Sunday was facilitated by Bangsamoro peace process government panel chairperson Irene Santiago, with the help of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The pause is an implementation of the “peace corridor” established by President Rodrigo Duterte.
According to Abella, during the pause, 179 civilians were rescued from Marawi City where Maute Group members continue to hold certain areas.
There was never a “100%” guarantee that armed elements of the group would respect the humanitarian pause, said Padilla.
“The risks are really high so we salute all the men and women involved in the humanitarian pause yesterday,” he said.
The military will continue helping aid groups reach civilians in need of rescue and assistance.
Abella said that, as of 6 pm on June 4, the government has provided P45.3 million worth of food and non-food assistance to those affected by the Marawi crisis.
A total of 37,640 families or 185,878 persons have been displaced in Northern Mindanao and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Of these, 3,768 families or 18,065 persons are in 29 evacuation centers.
Civilian casualties rose to 20 as of June 4, after a terrorist sniper shot a civilian on Saturday, June 3. The number of enemies killed remains at 120 while the number of government casualties is at 38. Ten of the casualties on the government side were soldiers killed in a botched military air strike.
Padilla said the Maute Group holds only around 10% of the city. Efforts of the military to flush them out completely are being hampered by the terrorists’ use of civilians as human shields and mosques and madrasas as attack staging areas. (READ: Military won’t meet June 2 deadline to end Marawi siege)
AFP chief General Eduardo Año has instructed ground commanders to “do everything to avoid” bombing these mosques.
The clashes in Marawi City began on May 23 and prompted Duterte to declare martial law in the entire Mindanao that same day. The 1987 Constitution states martial law must not exceed 60 days and any extension has to be approved by Congress. (READ: Martial Law 101: Things you should know) – Rappler.com