Philippine Air Force considered a game changer in Marawi war

UNTV News   •   November 7, 2017   •   7285

 

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Air Force has played a vital role in the Marawi siege.

The military unit is considered a game changer as it contributed a lot in killing terrorists through air strikes, among others.

“Without them, I believe we cannot really win Marawi City. It’s really a game changer. We saw that the Philippine Air Force played a very vital role in terms of turning tide and stealing the fear and the will to fight ng Maute ISIS ay na-destroy,” Western Mindanao Command Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, Jr. said.

“Kung wala ang game changers ng Philippine Air Force, this siege may take longer, probably another 6 months because it would just be pure ground fighting (Without the game changers of the Philippine Air Force, this siege would have taken longer, probably another 6 months because it would just be pure ground fighting),” AFP Former Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Ano said.

One of the pilots of UH-1H helicopters of the Philippine Airforce refused to face the camera because of security concerns.

He played a significant role in transporting wounded soldiers in the fight in Marawi City.

“Pagka naisakay sa chopper, nasa amin na ang buhay ng isang wounded. So ikaw bilang piloto, nandoon na ‘yung drive mo, hindi lang piloto, lahat ng air crew na nandoon sa chopper, kasama na ang medical team, paano niyo maisalba ang buhay noon na madagdagan pa buhay niya (When the wounded boards the chopper, his life is now in our hands. So as the pilot, the same goes for all the crew and medical team present, your drive should be there — save the wounded and extend his life),” said the UH-1H pilot.

The job of a forward air controller is another sensitive post. He is the direct contact of the pilot regarding the location of their enemies.

“As a controller on the ground, it is more dangerous because, before the delivery of the bomb, we are stationed at the minimum safe distance from the ammunition,” said, a forward controller who declined to be named.

A soldier who asked to be called “Blaster” also performed a crucial task in the fight as an explosive ordinance disposal personnel.

“Ginamit nila kami to reach the wall para sila maka-penetrate sa area. Kasi nagkaroon ng labanan na building to building ang pagitan. Ganoon ka-delikado(They used us to reach the wall to penetrate the area because a fight erupted that was building to building in distance. It was that dangerous),” Blaster said.

“Before papasok ang assault team ng army, kailangan ma-clear muna namin ang dadaanan nila(Before the army’s assault team enters, we should first clear their way),” he added.

The three soldiers were among the over 1,000 Philippine Air Force personnel who fought in Marawi.

Two hundred of the airmen who arrived earlier were given a Heroes’ Welcome in Villamor Air Base Pasay City.

The soldiers were given medals in recognition of their gallantry.

Not single personnel from the Air Force died in the five-month battle.

Meanwhile, the soldiers’ families are so thankful to finally reunite with them.

“Normal sa isang asawa mo sundalo, pangalawa lang kami. Kumbaga, iyon ang first priority niya (It’s normal for a wife of a soldier to take second place in his priorities.  His duty is his first priority),” said Blaster’s wife.

“Nakakalungkot lang ang mga nawalan ng sundalo din, iyong mga namatay (It’s sad that some soldiers have been killed).  Kaya sabi ko, salamat, hindi kasali ang asawa ko (That’s why I thought, ‘Thank God, my husband is not one of them’),” she added. – Rey Pelayo | UNTV News & Rescue

 

Another year of martial law in Mindanao? Drilon says ‘No’

Robie de Guzman   •   July 24, 2019

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon

MANILA, Philippines – Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Wednesday said it is time for the government to lift the martial law being enforced in the Mindanao region.

“We cannot tolerate an ‘unli’ martial law. The continued placing of Mindanao under martial law would set a dangerous precedent, not to mention its economic and social implications,” Drilon said in a statement.

The whole of Mindanao region has been under military rule since the local Maute terrorist group laid siege on Marawi City in 2017.

National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Jr. on Tuesday said he would recommend the extension of martial law in Mindanao for another year.

But for Drilon, it has been “too long” since martial law was declared in the region.

“Is martial law now the new norm in Mindanao?” he asked.

Drilon explained that under Section 18 of Article VII of the 1987 Constitution, the President is allowed to place any part of the country under martial law for a period not exceeding 60 days.

He said the framers of the Constitution understood the danger of a prolonged martial law, hence the 60-day limit and a regular review by Congress are clearly provided in the Constitution.

The same section provides that “upon the initiative of the President, the Congress may, in the same manner, extend such proclamation or suspension for a period to be determined by the Congress, if the invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it.”

But Drilon said there is nothing that shows actual rebellion and armed uprising in the region to justify the extension.

He noted that even Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio said she was considering asking that her city be exempted from the declaration of martial law.

The lawmaker called on the government’s security cluster to study the situation and “consider the dangerous mindset that the continued declaration of martial law in Mindanao may give rise to.”

“There is no perpetual martial law. There must be an end to this. As I said before, martial law is like an antibiotic, and antibiotic, when used excessively, becomes ineffective,” he said.

The Department of National Defense earlier said that evaluations and consultations are ongoing on whether to extend or lift the martial law in Mindanao.

Marawi residents to get livelihood aid starting April

Robie de Guzman   •   March 30, 2019

FILE PHOTO: Community leaders survey damaged houses and buildings inside war-torn Marawi, Philippines January 13, 2018. REUTERS/Tom Allard

Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) announced on Friday that the livelihood assistance for qualified residents of Marawi City will be distributed in the first week of April.

TFBM Chairperson Eduardo del Rosario said at a press briefing that a total of 32,000 qualified residents will receive aid amounting to P20,000 each family beginning April 6.

“On April 6 and 7, we are going to start giving the livelihood and transitional package of assistance to all residents of Marawi,” he said.

On top of this, residents from ground zero or the area mostly affected during the 2017 siege would also receive an additional P53,000 worth of financial assistance, del Rosario added.

“As of now, based on our profiling there are 32,000 qualified residents. All these 32,000 residents will be given P20,000 livelihood assistance and those residing in the most affected area will be given additional P53,000 additional by DSWD,” he said.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will lead the distribution of livelihood assistance to Marawi residents.

Although efforts to reconstruct Marawi are still ongoing, del Rosario said that residents are still advised against returning to their destroyed homes.

Del Rosario explained that authorities are still clearing the area from debris and unexploded ordnance that were left in the area after the intense fighting between the government forces and the Maute terrorists.

The military previously said that most of the unexploded bombs penetrated deep into the ground and could not safely be excavated with heavy equipment. Removing unexploded ordnance has also been difficult because of lack of radar equipment to detect where exactly the bombs are.

The TFBM estimates to complete the clearing operations by September. – Robie de Guzman

DOJ releases Marawi Vice Mayor arrested for rebellion

Robie de Guzman   •   March 15, 2019

Marawi City Vice Mayor Arafat Salic

MANILA, Philippines – Marawi City Vice Mayor Arafat Salic has been ordered released on Friday after the Department of Justice (DOJ) said his case cannot be subject of an inquest.

Salic was arrested by military and police on Wednesday over rebellion charges after his name was included in the Office of the Martial Law Administrator Arrest Order dated Sept. 4, 2017.

READ: Marawi Vice Mayor arrested over rebellion charges

He was brought to the DOJ on Friday supposedly for inquest proceeding for his alleged participation in the 2017 Marawi siege, but Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Peter Ong said the procedure is not applicable in the case of Salic.

The State Prosecutor explained that an inquest only applies to warrantless arrest, when a crime is being committed, a person is about to commit a crime or those caught following a hot pursuit.

Ong also pointed out that the martial law arrest order has been revoked by Martial law Administrator, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

With Salic’s release, the complaint he is facing will have to go through a regular preliminary investigation. – Robie de Guzman

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