Philippines Government will not Tolerate New Armed Group in Marawi

Richel V. Umel and Mark Navales
2017.09.20
Marawi, Philippines
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170920-ph-marawi-620.JPG Philippine troops patrol Mapandi village in Marawi, Sept. 14, 2017.
Jeoffrey Maitem/BenarNews

The Philippines will not tolerate a newly emerged armed group to complicate the fight in the southern city of Marawi, where troops are on a final push to defeat Islamic State (IS) militants, the presidential spokesman said Wednesday.

Spokesman Ernesto Abella said the military has been asked to look into the claims of the so-called Maranao Victims Movement, which has posted a video of social media demanding an end to the fighting that began on May 23 and has displaced Marawi’s more than 200,000 residents.

“The government, through the military, is still verifying the veracity of the video posted online regarding the existence of a new armed group,” Abella said. “The government does not tolerate the formation of armed groups to seek redress for grievances of citizens.”

He said demands are better made through “dialogues and consultation with various stakeholders” rather through by resorting to violence.

Members of the movement armed with high-powered weapons posted a 14-minute video on social media. They demanded an immediate end to the fighting and for the displaced to be allowed to reclaim their homes in Marawi or be given reparations for damages.

The video warned that should the demands be ignored, the group had no recourse but to launch a jihad against the military and the militants.

Abu Ayla Mawaraw, the group’s spokesman, earlier told BenarNews that members also wanted the militants to leave the city and release their remaining hostages.

On Wednesday, he said the group was giving both sides a “one-week timetable” to meet demands, or members would launch attacks against both government soldiers and IS militants.

Surprise announcement

The group went public on Monday, taking the military by surprise.

Its emergence also complicated efforts to end the Marawi siege and force out Abu Sayyaf and Maute fighters who are believed being backed by several foreign fighters.

On Wednesday, troops launched artillery rounds toward enemy positions in Marawi, in a bid to flush out the remaining rebels, estimated to number around 80.

As of Tuesday, the number of casualties is pegged at 151 troops, 680 terrorists and 47 civilians.

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