AFP spox maintains relief mission to Marawi was prevented based on safety grounds

June 16, 2017 - 8:26 PM
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Stalled Kalinaw relief convoy Marawi
A motor convoy carrying volunteers and supplies for a relief operation are stalled at a checkpoint on the approach to Marawi City proper. Photograph from Teddy Casiño.

Armed Forces of the Philippines Spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla on Friday maintained that the military did not “block” the convoy of a relief mission intended for evacuees in Marawi City on Thursday morning.

Rather, Padilla clarified, the military just prevented the Kalinaw Mindanao National Interfaith Humanitarian Mission from entering Marawi City for their own safety.

“The roadblock that they were referring to is the checkpoint between Iligan City and Marawi. And we have not been allowing anyone else other than local government and other officials to come into Marawi because of the conflict that is ongoing,” Padilla explained at a press conference Friday.

Former Congressman Teddy Casiño, who was part of the relief mission along with Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate and Gabriela Representative Arlene Brosas, said they had coordinated accordingly with the local government and the military about the mission.

Padilla replied, however, that the local government did not coordinate with the military about the mission, and even if the local government had done so, the military would not have recommended that the mission be allowed to push through.

“We have also requested all those who have been giving relief goods to channel the relief goods through the local government, which can then distribute it in the evacuation centers without the donors going to the danger zone,” Padilla added.

He reminded reporters at the press conference that an Australian journalist had been hit by a stray bullet Thursday inside the Marawi capitol, and the military did not want similar incidents to occur.

“So in the interest of safety, we’ve been working closely with local government and its social welfare arm and health arm to provide the services needed by the evacuees without having other people from the outside unnecessarily exposed to danger,” Padilla said.

“Your being Good Samaritans is well acknowledged, and your help will definitely get where it is intended. And that is guaranteed,” he added.

Meanwhile, Kalinaw Mindanao said in a press release that a driver of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, which was part of the mission, was “held” by the military at a checkpoint in Iligan City after dropping off volunteers in Linamon, Lanao del Norte.

Kalinaw Mindanao said the vehicle was checked by the military, and the driver was questioned about why he had several posters with him containing messages against martial law and aerial bombings.