Malacañang on Saturday, September 2, welcomed the efforts of the Armed Forces to safely return a key area in Marawi City under the government’s control.
Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella confirmed that government forces have taken control of Bayabao bridge in Banggolo, a major battle area between government troops and the Maute terror group.
“The retaking of this strategic bridge is an important development as we continue to gain the upper hand in the main battle area and expand our vantage positions with more troop deployments,” Abella said in a statement aired over Radyo Pilipinas.
Abella said that military operations continue to remain intense and focused.
He however assured that government forces want to ensure the safety of hostages “in the hope of bringing a quicker end to the rebellion and retake Marawi from the evil hands of the Maute terrorist rebels.”
The Palace official meanwhile clarified news reports that President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive not to bomb the Grand Mosque in Marawi City contradicted his earlier statement that he gave the military the option to attack the mosques to capture or kill the terrorist rebels.
“The Commander-in-Chief and our Armed Forces are taking pains to preserve places of worship as is the case with the Grand Mosque of the City of Marawi. Although exemptions have been provided by international conventions that allow force to be employed, we have deliberately chosen to preserve it and so with other places of worship in the main battle area,” Abella said.
He said that the AFP has made the safety of the civilians and the rescue of hostages as primordial concerns of the government forces in compliance with the guidance of President Duterte.
Anti-drug ops in Iloilo
Presidential spokesperson Abella confirmed that Iloilo City’s most notorious drug personality, Richard Prevendido, was neutralized in a firefight last Friday evening after he resisted arrest.
Prevendido was the head of the Prevendido Group, one of the two major drug groups in Iloilo.
“The incident shows the enormous risk our police officers face each time warrants are implemented against high-value targets. Police authorities are now investigating the incident and will provide update once information becomes available,” Abella said.
Palace welcomes Taguba’s statement on BOC issue
Malacañang, meanwhile, mentioned Mark Ruben Taguba II clearing presidential son and Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte and President Duterte’s son-in-law, Atty. Manases Carpio, from involvement in the smuggling case at the Bureau of Customs (BoC).
“With Mark Ruben Taguba II’s statement clearing Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte and Atty. Manases Carpio from involvement in the BOC smuggling case, there may be no reason for the Senate investigative panel to call the two individuals to attend any hearing in Metro Manila, although they have indicated willingness to testify,” Abella said.
“The legislature is a co-equal branch of the government, and the Executive branch respects the Senate’s independence. We trust its wisdom on this matter,” he said.###PND