Bacolod City, Philippines
14 June 2017 (0559 PM)
The undersecretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Philippines met with leaders of the Muslim community in this city to discuss cooperation to ensure protection of Bacolod from terror threats.
Undersecretary for Public Safety Jesus Hinlo Jr., in a report Wednesday following the meeting a day before with the Bacolod City Muslim Association, said refugees from Marawi City are welcome to stay here.
However, there is also a need to ensure that the city will be protected from terrorists.
“We informed (the Muslim leaders) that we sympathize with the refugees and the victims of war. We want an assurance from them to explain to our guests that the province and the city value its peace and order. We want them to be here in their time of need, but they should safeguard our place from terrorist,” said Hinlo, who hails from Bacolod.
The DILG official said Muslim leaders gave them an assurance to cooperate.
Hinlo said some residents of Marawi have already sought refuge with their relatives in Bacolod.
He urged local residents to stay alert for the presence of new faces in their respective barangays.
“Our barangay officials should make sure that if they see strangers in their barangays, they should give information to authorities,” he said. “We have to be vigilant, both Christians and the Muslims. It’s not about religion. It’s about taking care of our community.”
For his part, Imam Omar Betita, head of Dar Al-Dhikr Islamic Call and Guidance Center Bacolod Phils, said Negrenses should not fear the Muslims because they are not bad people.
Betita added that they also continue to monitor the presence of Muslims arriving in Bacolod.
“We are also coordinating with the police,” he said.
‘US TODAY’ reported on 10th of June 2017 U.S. special forces are helping the Philippine army quell a nearly three-week siege by Islamic State-linked militant groups in Marawi where 13 Philippine marines were killed, officials said Saturday.
The U.S. is assisting with surveillance for the local troops, but not putting boots on the ground, a Philippine military spokesperson confirmed. “They are not fighting. They are just providing technical support,” said military spokesman Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera at a news conference.
Video footage from Philippine news channel ABS-CBN News showed a US PS Orion intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance aircraft flying over Marawi on Friday.
“At the request of the government of the Philippines, U.S. special operations forces are assisting the (Armed Forces of the Philippines) with ongoing operations in Marawi that help AFP commanders on the ground in their fight against Maute and ASG militants,” the U.S. Embassy in Manila said in a statement.
“The United States is a proud ally of the Philippines, and we will continue to work with the Philippines to address shared threats to the peace and security of our countries, including on counterterrorism issues,” the statement said.
The Maute group, also known as Islamic State Lanao, led the attack on Marawi which began on May 23 and has resulted in the deaths of 58 security forces, 20 civilians and around 138 militant fighters.
ASG stands for the Abu Sayyaf Group, another militant group involved in the Marawi fighting.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law on the island of Mindanao, where Marawi is located, on May 24, citing the rising threat of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.
“We are in a state of emergency,” Duterte said. “I have a serious problem in Mindanao and the ISIS footprints are everywhere.”
Since taking office last year, Duterte has sought to limit military cooperation with the U.S., scaling back joint military exercises and canceling plans for joint maritime patrols, while pushing for closer relations with China and Russia.
More than 200,000 residents have been displaced from Marawi since the fighting began. The militants control an area of the city with about 2,000 hostages.
Col. Herrera told reporters the militants were entrenched in a mosque and using hostages as human shields, making it harder for security forces to carry out attacks.