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AFP beefing up efforts to ensure safer roadways in Marawi

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Friday, September 8, assured that the government is doubling its efforts in ensuring the safety of roadways after a civilian died of a stray bullet near the Mindanao State University (MSU).

“Our local Crisis Committee in Marawi, together with our Task Force Group Ranao under General Rey, are working doubly hard to ensure the safety of some specific roadways that have figured in some incidents, particularly yesterday, when a member of a government agency was hit by a stray bullet,” AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, Jr. said during the regular Mindanao Hour briefing in Malacañan.

“The gate of MSU where this incident occurred has been closed and traffic along that thoroughfare has been rerouted to safer areas as a result of this development,” Padilla said.

Padilla added that Task Force Group Ranao has beefed up its forces in the area, especially around MSU, and will provide additional men to ensure the safety of motorists and residents in those particular areas that figured in the incident, adding that classes in a nearby private school were likewise suspended following the incident.

Padilla however said classes at the MSU will continue because the area is well secured.

“There are forces that are detailed there to conduct checkpoints and to ensure that no groups will be able to penetrate from a safe distance,” he said.

The AFP spokesperson meanwhile said the area where the Maute rebels remain confined has already been reduced to about 20 hectares.

“Fighting has been very fierce. It has been at close quarter battle in the area. But our forces are determined and are focused to seek to end this rebellion as soon as possible,” Padilla assured.

Padilla added that they received word from the ground that only one of the seven Maute brothers remains alive.

“We got word from the commander on the ground, Lieutenant General [Carlito] Galvez, and as you have been hearing the last few days, they have reason to believe that only one of the Maute brothers remains in the fight, and this is Omar,” he said.

Padilla, however, said that the AFP has yet to recover the bodies of the other Maute members and subject them to DNA testing before they could issue a categorical statement.

He noted, however, that various information made available to the troops, including revelations from rescued hostages, point to this development.

Construction of 9-hectare Transitional Shelter Site starts

In a statement by Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Assistant Secretary Kristoffer James Purisima, meanwhile, he said that the construction of the nine-hectare Transitional Shelter Site has already started.

“As promised by Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council Chair Eduardo Del Rosario, the construction of temporary shelters in the 9-hectare Transitional Shelter Site provided by the Marawi City Government will start today,” Purisima stated.

“The team in charge has arrived in Marawi City yesterday to facilitate the necessary coordination for the start of the construction today,” he added.

Palace welcomes rescue of Indonesian hostages from ASG

In other news, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the Palace welcomes the recent rescue by government troops of two Indonesian hostages from the hands of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) after an encounter in Sulu on Thursday, September 7.

“Our operations against the members of the ASG remain focused and intense, especially as they continue their acts of violence and terrorism,” Abella stressed.

Malacañang assures cooperation of Executive branch in Senate investigation of teenage suspect slays

Meanwhile, Abella said the government is keen on working with lawmakers in its investigation on the death of Carl Angelo Arnaiz and Reynaldo de Guzman.

“We are one with the public in condemning the suspicious deaths of Carl Angelo Arnaiz and [Reynaldo] de Guzman. The Executive, through the Philippine National Police, will cooperate with the Senate investigation and any other investigations called for,” Abella said.

The Palace official also reiterated that rogue cops have no place in the Philippine National Police (PNP).

“Rogue cops, if and when allegations are proven true, have no place in an institution like the Philippine National Police and we need everyone’s full support and cooperation as we continue to cleanse its ranks,” Abella said.

According to the Palace official, the recent killing of De Guzman and Arnaiz is a deep concern.

“Any death, any violent, even just one single violent death is a call for concern, especially with the younger ones. As we all know, the President is very concerned and deeply protective of the next generation,” Abella said.

He said it is important to maintain more solid family relationships and to keep the children away from questionable activities, or even companions.

Abella, meanwhile, thanked the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee for giving Vice Mayor Duterte and Atty. Carpio the chance to debunk baseless allegations.

“While nearly all senators showed respect for truth and reason, we caution against a particular one, who made baseless claims of purported bank accounts and body markings and then prodded witnesses to disprove his claims instead of presenting validating proofs,” Abella said.

“His tactics had been foisted on public and media time and again. And the only way to stop this is to demand proof from anyone making baseless claims,” he added. (PND)

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