MANILA – The rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has agreed to help the Philippine Government save and give humanitarian aid to civilians trapped in terrorist-held Marawi City.
The MILF said in its website Luwaran that the terms of cooperation between the group and the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte with regard helping the trapped Marawi residents will be laid out.
This, as Marawi City vicar general Teresito Suganob, who is held captive by the Maute Group linked to the Islamic State along with 200 other civilians pleaded to President Duterte to stop the military operation against the local terrorists in order to save their lives.
Suganob said in a video posted yesterday on the Islamic State (IS) channel Telegram that they “want to live another day, another month, three years….more.” “We are asking your help to please give what your enemies are asking for,” Suganob said.
Marawi City Bishop Edwin de la Peña confirmed that it was Suganob who was in the video.
Maute Group members took Suganob and other people from the Our Lady Help of Christians Cathedral during the terrorists’ siege of Marawi City last Tuesday.
In Davao City, Duterte met with MILF leader Murad Ebrahim and other MILF officials yesterday and assured them that the Martial Law declaration is not against them, the Moro National Liberation Front (another Moro rebel group) or the communist New People’s Army (NPA).
Present in the meeting were Armed Forces Chief Eduardo Año, who was assigned by Duterte as Martial Law administrator, MILF First Vice-Chairman Ghazali Jaafar, Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces Chief of Staff Sammy Al-Mansour, peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal and Supreme Shari’ah Court head Ustadz Khalifa Nando.
The MILF said the Coordinating Committees on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCHs) “would be utilized for planning and implementing the ways on how to immediately and safely extend the humanitarian assistance.”
Meanwhile, Suganob said in the video that he is held captive along with a with a female professor from Mindanao State University (MSU), two female church workers, seven teachers from Dansalan Foundation College and “about 200 carpenters, domestic workers, children and youth, ordinary Christian settlers and other Subanen tribes.”
“If you have the good heart for us, considering Mr. President the about 240 prisoners of war. We are asking your good heart, please consider. We still want to live for another day, we want to live another month, we want to live three years—more. Please consider us, Mr. President,” he said.
Bishop De la Peña told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in a phone interview that he’s “more worried now because they (the terrorists) are using” Suganob. “They seem to be cornered so they use Father Chito. This is the most critical part of Father Chito’s captivity, this is the most difficult time for all the captives,” he said.
Marawi City evacuees said corpses litter the streets of the city and that destruction to mosques, houses and establishments as a result of the military airstrikes is “unimaginable.”
Acting Lanao del Sur provincial spokesperson Zia Alonto Adiong said local officials received information that bodies needed to be retrieved from several areas in the city.
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) deputy country head Martin Thalmann, for his part, said they are concerned with the situation of the trapped civilians and that the situation in Marawi is “very fluid,” due to ongoing military operations.
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