MANILA— The government has been providing assistance to communities affected by the military operations against the Maute group in Mindanao, Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said on Monday.
Abella, who launched the Mindanao Hour during the press briefing on Monday, told reporters that to date, a total of PHP1,172,725 worth of assistance has been provided to affected families in ARMM. The assistance was extended by the government through DSWD-Field Office 10 and 12.
“As of today, there have been 12,509 families or 59,665 persons displaced in Regions 10 and ARMM. Of which, 1,018 families or 4,278 persons are still staying in 14 evacuation centers are staying outside the ECs with their relative or friends,” Abella said.
The DSWD Field Office Region 10 immediately placed a Disaster Operation Center in Iligan City on May 23 to augment the operation of the DSWD ARMM.
Also, the Department of Trade and Industry enforced a price freeze on basic necessities and prime commodities in Mindanao on May 25 after President Duterte declared martial law.
The price freeze covers Regions 9, 10, 11, 12 and Caraga and takes effect for 60 days, as indicated in the declaration.
There is also enough power supply in the region, Abella said citing NPC Mindanao Generation (NPC MinGen) declaration that the operations of power plants in the Marawi City and Lanao area are normal.
With regard to the security situation, Abella said the AFP and PNP belied reports of checkpoints being conducted by uniformed elements without badges or identifications.
Checkpoints follow strict protocols and are strictly complied with, he said encouraging the public to document and report unauthorized checkpoints in Mindanao.
Clearing of Marawi of militants still in the area, rescuing trapped residents, and recovering civilian casualties and victims are the security forces’ main objectives, according to Abella.
As of Monday morning, Abella reported that there are 15 soldiers and three policemen killed in action fighting the terrorists. There are 61 enemies killed, 42 of which are confirmed by body count and 19 of which are confirmed by eyewitnesses.
Nineteen civilians were killed by the terrorist group and 390 were rescued by authorities, Abella said.
Gov’t in full control of Marawi City
Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr., AFP spokesman, said the security forces have complete control of Marawi City contrary to reports that it remains at the hands of the terrorists.
“It is not true that half of the city is controlled by the rebels. Totally untrue. The Armed Forces and the Police and all armed — our forces are in complete control of the city, except for certain areas of the city where they continue to hold,” Padilla said.
These areas are subject of clearing operations that are continuously being conducted by the AFP, he said. Although there is no timeline set, Padilla said they are seeking to end the military operations in Mindanao as soon as possible.
President Duterte declared Martial law in Mindanao on May 23 through Proclamation No. 216 to quell the violence perpetrated by the Maute group, which is said to be aligned with ISIS. The Martial Law in Mindanao will last for 60 days.
Although there is Martial Law in Mindanao, Abella said it does not suspend the operation of the Constitution, does not supplement the functioning of the judicial and legislative assemblies, does not confer jurisdiction on military courts over civilian where civilian courts are able to function.
The Palace introduced the Mindanao Hour media briefing on Monday to provide the public with daily update on what is happening on the ground in Marawi City and relevant regions in Mindanao.
Mindanao Hour is spearheaded by the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the Presidential Communications Office.