Palace welcomes developments on Marawi ops

MANILA -- MalacaAang on Saturday welcomed the developments on the government's ongoing operations against the Maute Group in Marawi City.

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said among these developments is the recovery of PHP10-million worth of shabu found inside the house of former Marawi City mayor, Omar Solitario Ali.

In a statement, Abella said this "will hopefully bring to bear the realities existing in the area about the close relation between the illegal drug trade and this ongoing rebellion.

Ali was among the local government officials allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade who were named by President Rodrigo Duterte.

His name is likewise included in the arrest order of the Department of National Defense (DND) in connection with the Marawi rebellion, Abella said.

He further said that the military is validating reports that Malaysian national Mahmud bin Ahmad, who helped finance the rebellion in Marawi, died from wounds he sustained during the early days of the Marawi conflict.

We have been told that the military has information of the spot where he was buried and government troops are now trying to locate it and recover the remains. Once done, only then can we make an official confirmation, Abella said.

Meanwhile, he said MalacaAang, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police, and the DND do not encourage or tolerate abuses by the military or the police in Mindanao or elsewhere.

We will investigate and if evidence warrants, prosecute and punish all those who committed abuses, especially sexual violence against women, he said.

Abella cited a recent report by the Commission on Human Rights, stating that there was no evidence of abuse of martial law in Mindanao.

Should there be, proper complaints must be properly filed. In the meantime, unless based on fact and evidence, we ask critics and advocates to be more considerate in their judgment of the efforts and context of our soldiers' challenges and be more supportive of their efforts to protect the Filipino way of life, he said.

Abella also said reports that 89 foreign terrorists have entered the country is still being validated.

Foreign terrorists, he said, may have entered Mindanao via Indonesia or Malaysia.

This is why we are making a collective effort against terrorism and violent extremism through a trilateral cooperation with Indonesia and Malaysia, he pointed out.

The Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia have recently beefed up their trilateral cooperation to fight terrorism and violent extremism in Southeast Asia.

As to the reported NPA attacks in Mindanao, Abella said these serious offensives further fueled the public's doubts on whether it is still worthwhile to continue the peace negotiations with them.

We are disturbed by the recent NPA attacks considering that their leaders in Europe issued a statement condemning the incident in Marawi, even offering to refrain from undertaking offensive operations in Mindanao to enable our government forces to deal with focus on the rebellion still happening, he said.

These NPA attacks disrupt the conducive and enabling environment indispensable in peace making and peace building.

Abella said that once validated, the government will undertake corresponding and appropriate steps to deal decisively with the situation.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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