AFP to MAUTE: 'Surrender or Die'


Give up or face death.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is giving the remaining Maute gunmen still holding out in Marawi City the chance to surrender.

“For the terrorists, not surrendering will mean their sure death,” AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said yesterday.

Officials said the military is in the final phase of its operations against the Maute group and is expected to retake the entire city by the weekend.

“Our ground commanders have assured the public that the end is almost there,” Padilla told reporters. “We’re trying to isolate all these pockets of resistance. As to the call to surrender, we aired this message in the hope of ending this soon and reducing any more loss of lives and property.”

Initial reports said the Maute gunmen were left with few areas to maneuver or outflank the government troops that continue to close in.

As of Monday night, government forces had killed 63 Maute gunmen in seven days of fighting.


“We are in full control, meaning to say we can control who comes in and who comes out, who moves around and who doesn’t. And we’re trying to isolate all these pockets of resistance that have remained,” Padilla said earlier.

Security officials have assured lawmakers that the government was in control of the situation in Marawi with the resolve of ending the hostilities.

“We appreciate the concern of our senators and the full support that the Armed Forces is getting... In return, the Armed Forces has given the guarantee that we will implement this in the best way possible and in the fastest means,” Padilla told reporters following a closed door session with the senators.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan said they were told by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana that the situation would return to normal by the end of the week.

“The Secretary of National Defense is saying that they are looking at being able to normalize the situation by Friday, by this week,” Pangilinan said.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) also assured the lawmakers that Metro Manila is safe from terror threats.

“We have not monitored any threats here in Metro Manila. However, we are continuously conducting monitoring. Intelligence operatives from AFP and Philippine National Police are monitoring critical areas here,” National Capital Region Police Office chief Director Oscar Albayalde said.

Albayalde though admitted some of the Maute gunmen have relatives living in Metro Manila.

President Duterte earlier declared the crisis in Marawi City is expected to end by Friday.

The President’s announcement was in support of Lorenzana’s declared timetable that the bandits would be defeated by weekend.

The military dropped more bombs in the areas where the remaining Maute are believed to be holed up.

Troops often encounter sniper fire as they advance slowly to clear Marawi of rebels.

Padilla said government forces are working to “clear the city of all remnants of this group.”

The city of Marawi, home to some 200,000 people, has been under siege by Islamic State-linked Maute militants since a failed raid Tuesday last week on the suspected hideout of Isnilon Hapilon, a leader of the notorious Abu Sayyaf.

Hapilon got away and fighters loyal to him took over parts of the city, burning buildings and seizing about a dozen hostages, including a priest, Fr. Teresito Suganob, who reports said is appealing on behalf of the Maute gunmen to stop the fighting and withdraw all government forces in Marawi.

Hapilon is still hiding out in the city under the protection of the Maute who are desperately trying to find a way to “extricate” him, the military said.


“We are on track. I am updated regularly. Timetable is one week from May 25,” Lorenzana said.

Hit and run

The military however insists the drawn-out fight in Marawi is not a true sign of the militants’ strength, and that they even held back to spare civilian lives.

As of yesterday morning, AFP chief Gen. Eduardo Año said the military, working house-by-house, had cleared 70 percent of the city and the remaining militants were isolated.

Still, the Maute fighters have turned out to be remarkably well-armed and resilient.

Officials said the remaining Maute militants, estimated to be 50 gunmen, have shifted to hit-and- run tactics in a bid to lure troops into an ambush.

Brig. Gen. Custodio Parcon, commander of the AFP- Joint Task Force Tawi-Tawi, said around 50 Maute gunmen are being pursued by troops in Barangay Mapandi.

“Fighting is sporadic in our area. It’s not commensurate to our combat power. They ran when we hit them and we are very careful in entering their so-called established engagement areas,” Parcon said.

Aside from Barangay Mapandi, some Maute gunmen are in the city’s commercial district while the rest are holed up along the Agus River bank near the city.

Parcon also revealed eight militants surrendered last Saturday.

“Just like the President has expressed, you know when you realize that you are not capable of fighting anymore and it’s not worth it on your side. It’s either you’re going to die or you surrender for the sake of peace,” Parcon said, referring to the remaining bandits.

Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. said the Maute are also using civilians as human shields by rejecting appeals for them to stand down to allow the evacuation of trapped civilians.

Brig. Gen. Rolando Joselito Bautista, commander of the Joint Task Force ZamPeLan and 1st Army Division, said the focus of government forces is to clear Marawi of militants, rescue trapped civilians and recover civilian casualties and victims in the fastest means possible.

The violence in Marawi prompted President Duterte to declare martial law and place the entire Mindanao region under military rule for 60 days.

Lawmakers had asked for a joint session of Congress to determine whether martial law is still necessary as required under the Constitution.

Even after the mission is accomplished in driving out the Maute gunmen from Marawi, security officials stressed the need to continue the implementation of martial law.

National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said it is up to the President to assess when martial law in Mindanao can be lifted.

“We will leave that to the decision of the President because it will be the President in the end who will assess based on the report coming from the military, which is the administrator (of martial law),” Esperon said.

“Let’s leave the President to make a judgment on that,” he told reporters in the Senate.

He said the security problem in Mindanao does not only involve the Maute but also the Abu Sayyaf, the communist New People’s Army rebels, other armed groups and drug syndicates.

Año, for his part, revealed the plan of the extremists is to set Marawi ablaze entirely to project the influence of the Islamic State.

The militants wanted to kill Christians in nearby Iligan City on Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting, to mimic the violence seen by the world in Syria and Iraq, he said.

Año, as implementor of martial law, said foreigners are not restricted in Mindanao as long as they have valid reasons in going to conflict-affected areas.

“Foreigners are not restricted in Mindanao as long as they carry their visa,” he said.

The fighters’ support network in Marawi remains unclear, though the power of the Mautes has grown in recent years. Led by the brothers Maute, the group has become increasingly active in a number of towns across Lanao del Sur province, where Marawi is located, and has been instrumental in the fighting this past week.

[Read more: http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/05/31/1705323/surrender-or-die-afp-tells-maute]
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