CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 29 November) – Against the advice of the Presidential Security Group (PSG), President Rodrigo Duterte will proceed with his scheduled visit to Lanao del Sur on Wednesday, despite the ambush shortly before noon Tuesday of an advance party of the PSG here.
Four wounded PSG members injured in the ambush in Marawi City are medevacked to the 4th Infantry Division headquarters in Cagayan de Oro City. They were later transferred to a hospital downtown with better facilities. Photo courtesy of Cpl. Jordan Galicano / 4ID CMO
“There’s trouble there in Mindanao,” Duterte said at the inauguration Tuesday afternoon of a mega rehabilitation center in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija. “It is within control but it it’s a troublesome thing. So I have to fly tomorrow to go (there),” Duterte said.
He told his audience that his advance party was ambushed and hit by an improvised explosive device (IED) “but I am going there. I’m going there because I’m simply going there.”
“The advice was to postpone (the trip) but I said no, I will go there. And if possible, take the same route and maybe we can have a little gunfight here, gunfight there. Exercise. Kung hindi ako lulusot… (If I don’t get through) that’s why we have a Vice President, Leni Robredo. Then you can have a gentle President also, in exchange for this discourteous mouth,” Duterte said.
Maj. Gen. Gerardo Barrientos, commanding general of the 1st Army Division said a convoy of military vehicles was hit by roadside bombs in Sitio Emi, Barangay Matampay here, injuring nine soldiers – seven from the PSG and two from the Army.
The Office of the Communications Secretary said in a statement that between 10:30 and 11:00 a.m. today, “a convoy of Presidential Security Group (PSG) personnel, Radio TV Malacanang (RTVM), and local troop escorts were waylaid via a roadside improvised explosive device (IED) while en route to Marawi.”
It said only one PSG member was seriously injured, four needed emergency care while the rest were only “slightly injured” and given first aid treatment.
Bomb them but what will you get in return?
Duterte narrated he was asked by the media last Friday during his visit to the wounded soldiers in Sulu and Zamboanga City if pinning medals on wounded soldiers was all that he was going to do.
“There is really no problem,” he told the audience in Nueva Ecija. “I can order the invasion of Jolo and give the order, the last man standing. I can burn Jolo. I can burn Basilan…. Lahat ng bahay makita ko (all the houses that I see) with the howitzers and the … but what would it bring us? If you think I will wipe out humanity there (and) we will at last enjoy the blessings of peace, what you will get in return may be terrorism and mind you that Maute (Group in Lanao del Sur) who’s fighting the government troops there, there’s a raging battle going on (there),” Duterte said.
The Maute Group has been suspected to be affiliating with the ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). It attacked Butig town in Lanao del Sur in February and swooped down on the town again on November 24, where it raised the black flag of the ISIS at the old town hall.
President Duterte on Monday confirmed the Maute Group and the ISIS are “connected.”
“I just wanted you to know the dimensions of it all. We are not good today because finally, finally the intelligence community advised me that ISIS has… connected with a group in the Philippines called the Maute. There is a raging war now in Lanao,” Duterte said at the ceremonial switch-on of a new coal-fired power plant, held at the Rizal Hall of Malacañang.
Initial reports from the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council of Butig said at least 10,000 residents fled to neighboring Lumbayanague town or Marawi City to avoid getting caught in a crossfire between government forces and the Maute Group.
Four of the injured PSG members were airlifted to Cagayan de Oro City at noon.
A helicopter from the Presidential Security Group airlifted four of the seriously wounded PSG members to Camp Evangelista, Cagayan de Oro City Tuesday noon.
They were later transferred to the Polymedic Medical Plaza as there are better facilities than the Army Station Hospital in Camp Evangelista.
Drieza Liningding, Secretary-General of the Bangsamoro National Movement for Peace and Development (BNMPD) and co-founder of the militant youth organization, Free The Bangsamoro Movement, said the reported bombing should be investigated.
“This needs to be investigated. Kung bomba ang sumabog, marinig yan sa nearby barangays. Never again. Wag nyo kami gamitin ulit para mag Martia Law!” (If a bomb did explode, that would have been heard in the nearby barangays. Never again. Do not use us to declare martial law!” Liningding wrote on his Facebook wall.
Reached by phone, Liningding, a Duterte supporter, told MindaNews he went near the reported blast site and was told by residents that they heard no bomb explosion but soldiers firing. (Froilan Gallardo with a report from Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)