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Lossing candidates and their supporters stage prayer rally to condemn massive cheating and vote buying in Lanao del Sur and Marawi City

May 20, 2019

MARAWI CITY ----- More than a thousand of Marawi residents, some are middle-aged women, elderly, youth and children, gathered Friday morning in a covered hall of Jamiatu Muslim Mindanao, in Barangay Matampay, here, to hold a prayer rally condemning the reported massive fraud and vote buying in the city and in Lanao del Sur. Candidates in the city and provincial levels who were not lucky of their bid in the recently concluded national and local elections have also attended the rally. Bringing with them campaign posters upcycled into placards with their sentiments written in it, these residents were calling on President Duterte to intervene and declare failure of elections, especially in Marawi City.  Children were bringing placards saying "Vote buying doesn't help Marawi rise again, think about it", "Vote buying is the dirty work of Shaitan, a Satan!", "Disqualify vote buyers, cheaters!", "We have no good future with corrupted, cheater and selfish leader. We love Lanao del Sur!", "Massive cheating happened in LDS election 2019, Expose them!". Atty. Ramayan Basman, a mayoral candidate under the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino Lakas ng Bayan (PDP Laban) said they have witnesses, including watchers, who executed affidavits that they have seen the manipulations in the barangay level. "We have videos wherein yung mga BEIs (board of election inspectors) mismo pre-shading ballots," Basman said in an interview. Her camp have also able to secure video of vote buying and all these evidence will be brought to a legal battle according to Basman. Her camp discovered that a barangay chairman or a relative will stay inside the polling precinct and ask a voter who he will vote. "Apparently the barrio (barangay chairman) has two candidates at kung sino ang iboboto nila, bibigyan sila ng color-coded coupons at sa labas na i-claim ang cash," Basman said. "Humihingi kami ng hustisya dahil may kamaliang nangyayari at may dayaang nangyayari noong botohan (May 13)," she added. On Wednesday, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) proclaimed reelectionist Majul Gandamra and his team mate as winners in Marawi City.  Basman ranked fourth during the election. Norodin Alonto Lucman, who was running for Lanao del Sur's provincial vice governor, accused the Adiong clan of masterminding the massive fraud and anomalies. Incumbent vice governor Mamintal Alonto Adiong is running for provincial governor while his 25-year old son, Mujam, is running for vice governor. Mamintal's brother, Ansaruddin, is running for congressman in the first district of Lanao del Sur. Their mother, Soraya Alonto Adiong, is incumbent provincial governor, who is not running anymore running for any elective position. Mamintal and Ansaruddin are Lucman's nephew. Winners of the provincial positions in Lanao del Sur were not yet proclaimed because of the delayed canvassing in some municipalities due to deffective SD cards. But as of 2pm Friday, the Adiong clan led a very wide margin of votes against their opponents. Lucman is also accusing the barangay chairmen, the electoral board, COMELEC officials and some officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines behind the cheating. "With the counting of the votes, I only garnered 14 thousand votes in the whole province... Evidence like that dagdag-bawas was committed by people in the government, for example the barangay captains, the BEIs (are) in cahots with the COMELEC officers and some AFP officers," Lucman said in an interview. Adiong in a separate interview said the COMELEC had created a task force that will look into reported vote buying and it would bd better to wait for the result of their investigation. "Yun ang aksiyon ng COMELEC para masagot ang mga alegasyon ng mga natalong kandidato," Adiong said. The provincial election supervisor of Lanao del Sur and the Provincial Police Office of Lanao del Sur have issued certification on May 17 that no complaint involving election offenses and or issues has reached the said offices. "No report and complaint on election-related incidents or irregularities have been filed," the certification, signed by provincial election supervisor Allan Kadon stated.

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High-powered guns, explosives seized in Maguindanao

May 17, 2019

DATU ANGGAL MIDTIMBANG, Maguindanao  – Government troops seized Friday several high-powered firearms and explosives from two groups who were engaged in a gunfight starting Tuesday over the results of the election in Talitay, Maguindanao. Lt. Col. Crisaldo Fernandez, commander of the 90th Infantry Battalion covering Talitay town, said his unit moved to pacify the two warring groups. Fernandez said his troops made it appear that they had left but returned early morning on Friday to the surprise of one of the armed groups, which fled the area, some on bancas, leaving their armaments behind. Among the seized firearms were five M-16 rifles, four M-653 rifles, three Garand rifles, four M-203 grenade launchers, one shotgun, one carbine rifle, one KG-9 automatic rifle, two Thompson rifles, two RPG launchers, and a caliber 50 sniper rifle. The explosives included assorted mortars and four hand grenades. Ammunition for various firearms were also seized. The military added they recovered illegal drugs paraphernalia, election campaign T-Shirts and bandoliers. Maj. Arvin Encinas, spokesperson of the 6th Infantry Division, said the clash started in Sitio Sultan, Barangay Kilalan in Talitay on Tuesday and spread to the nearby village of Bentan, forcing some civilians to flee. Encinas said the groups involved were men of the brothers Abdulwahab and Montasir Sabal, who both won as mayor and vice mayor of Talitay, respectively, and those of Sedik Ameril, former assemblyman of the abolished Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The Sabals’ group of armed men was reportedly led by a certain “Kalbo” while that of Ameril was led by Mike Sitti. Montasir, the elder brother, was the elected mayor in 2016 while Abdulwahab was his vice mayor. But both brothers went into hiding when they were included in the narco list. Abdulwahab later resurfaced and cleared his name, and thus succeeded his brother on the vacated mayoral post. Ameril was also in the narco list, the reason why he is also in hiding. Encinas said that what apparently triggered the feud is rooted on an unfulfilled agreement between Abdulwahab and Sedik. Both parties, he said, agreed that to establish a harmonious relationship between them, Abdulwahab must junk Montasir so Ameril’s sister Suraida would win in the vice mayoral race in Talitay. Encinas said that based on information they gathered in their investigation, the Sabal brothers dumped Suraida in the last minute. Abdulwahab thus backed his elder brother despite the funds contributed by Sedik to the younger Sabal’s campaign. Montasir garnered 2,350 votes in the vice mayoral race, while Suraida Ameril was only in third place with 1,537 votes. Col. Wilbur Mamawag, commander of the Army’s 603rd Brigade said they were still looking for more firearms. Joint Task Force Central commander, Major General Cirilito Sobejana commended the joint efforts of his troops and local government units which enabled the the displaced residents to return to their homes.

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DEPED Marawi prepares for Brigada Eskwela 2019

May 16, 2019

ILIGAN CITY, - The education cluster in Marawi City is all set for the upcoming conduct of Brigada Eskwela on May 20-25 this year, making the schools ready for learners a week before the opening of classes. Department of Education-Marawi Assistant Schools Division Superintendent (ASDS) Anna Zenaida Unte said the city would join the annual national program of the education department teeming with activities that present the spirit of shared community and social responsibility for quality basic education to the learners.  "We use our collaborative efforts together with the community, the parents, the teachers and other stakeholders to do minor repair to the schools, making sure that the school facilities are ready for the learners," Unte added. The education department will ensure the smooth opening of classes on June 3 this year.  Brigada Eskwela includes cleaning, minor repairing of school vicinities, painting of school furniture, beautification of facilities, and among others.  Transitory schools in Marawi City were among the public schools used as polling precincts in the recently concluded midterm national and local elections, which left some damages to school facilities and structures.  "We wanted to make sure we are protecting the sanctity of our school structures for our students," Unte said. Unte urges newly elected officials of Marawi to support the rehabilitation of public schools in this war-torn city. "This is for the future of our children to provide them comfortable and conducive learning environment." Meanwhile, the DepED appealed to its partners to help the young learners of Marawi recover from their traumatic experiences during the siege by sharing something to attain quality basic education among Maranaos.  "We are doing our best for our Marawi children because we believe they are the most vulnerable group in the society. They are our future leaders whom we need to develop also," Unte added.  Unte encourages parents in Marawi to encourage their children to continue going to school. (LJKabagani/PIA ICCC)   

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TFBM readies for ‘Marawi Week of Peace’ celebration

May 16, 2019

MARAWI CITY,  - Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) here can now avail themselves of free services from the different member-agencies of the Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) during this year's observance of Marawi Week of Peace starting May 17- 23. In an interview during the "Bangon Marawi, Bangon Ranao" radio program with TFBM Field Office manager and Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) Assistant Secretary Felix Castro Jr., he announced that the activity is open to all Marawi constituents. "We are just finalizing the program of activities. But definitely, we will have a cleanup drive on May 18 to remove all campaign paraphernalia all over the city," Castro said. During TFBM meeting last May 14, it was agreed that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) would lead the "Operation Baklas" with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). The TFBM will also participate in the "Brigada Eskwela" of the Marawi City Schools Division on May 20, and the inter-agency body will also try to facilitate the issuance of passports, senior citizen and single parent IDs, and civil registration services of the city government. "Our purpose in doing this is to help our IDPs and to promote social cohesion between the government and the people of Marawi, promotion of spiritual development, and peace for Marawi City," Castro added. For this year's Marawi Week of Peace, the TFBM will hold a short program in Marawi City Hall grounds while the Subcommittee on Business and Livelihood will do the "Kawiyagan" (livelihood) activity with booths of the different TFBM member-agencies showcasing their services for Marawi IDPs. The city government will also conduct relief operations and Quran reading competition.  The Philippine Army's 103rd Infantry Brigade and the Philippine National Police (PNP) will also distribute Iftar to Marawi IDPs in collaboration with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). (WLBacelonia/PIA-ICCC)  

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PBSP trains locals to help rebuild Marawi

May 16, 2019

MARAWI CITY, May 16 (PIA-ICCC) - The Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) continues to find ways to help this city rise again from the siege and, at the same time, provide alternative source of livelihood. In partnership with Republic Cement, PBSP launched the "Marawi Tibayanihan: Rebuilding Homes for a Stronger Marawi" project which trained construction workers especially masons to make their work more safe and strong.  "We call them the 'Tibayanihan crew'. Aside from providing income, we are also helping ensure the steady supply of cement. We are manufacturing cement called Mindanao. This will be exclusively distributed for the rehabilitation of Marawi City," said Renato C. Sunico, President of Republic Cement & Building Materials Inc. The “Tibayanihan crew” who were trained on carpentry, painting, plumbing, electrical wiring, welding and masonry, will be engaged in the rehabilitation of homes in Barangay Boganga and Raya Saduc and the covering of drainage canal in Area 1 Transitional Community.  "The project trained us on how to build stronger homes that are structurally sound and on how to be safe at work. They provided us personal protective equipment like hard hats, gloves, boots and shirts. I am happy because I can now repair my house and my neighbors’ homes," said Dimard Fahad, a trained 'Tibayanihan crew' from Barangay Raya Saduc, Marawi City. "This is a good start for the 'Tibayanihan crew'. The Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) will take note of this. Our Building and Reconstruction Team could possibly hire them in case we need more workers," said Professor Mary Joy Yuson, executive assistant to TFBM Field Office manager and Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) Assistant Secretary Felix Castro Jr. (WLBacelonia/PIA-ICCC)

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Suspects in Lanao Sur blast admit membership in MILF – Army

May 14, 2019

MARAWI CITY-- The suspects in the failed bombing attempt in Marantao, Lanao del Sur on Monday have admitted they were members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), according to Col. Romeo Brawner Jr., commanding officer of the Marawi-based 103rd Infantry Brigade. Brawner, who hours earlier had declared that the elections in Lanao del Sur were generally peaceful, said two of the suspects were members of the 102nd Base Command under the leadership of Abdullah Macapaar a.k.a. Commander Bravo. “They even have MILF IDs with them,” he added. But Brawner was quick to say that this does not mean the failed bombing attempt was “sanctioned or ordered by Commander Bravo.” The MILF commander is now a member of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), the body governing the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) in the three-year transition period until June 30, 2022. BARMM’s interim Chief Minister Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, also MILF chair, told MindaNews they are “still in the process of investigating” but added “wala kaming MILF ID ever since.” Von Al Haq, MILF spokesperson, told MindaNews the military can ask Macapaar if, indeed, the suspects are his men, as he is now a government official. Around 5 p.m. on election day, a suspect inside a white Toyota van reportedly threw an improvised explosive device (IED) apparently towards soldiers guarding a polling center at the Daana-Ingud Bacong Elementary School in neighboring Marantao town, but missed his target as the bomb hit the van’s glass pane instead. The IED bounced back and exploded inside the van, injuring the bomber, according to Lt. Col.. Jason Jumawan, commander of the 82nd Infantry Battalion. Authorities arrested the bomber, the uninjured driver, and another suspect found near the blast site. A fourth suspect reportedly ran away, eluding arrest. “Even if they are members of the 102nd Base Command, it could be that they were used by politicians,” Brawner stressed. He further said that aside from the IED, they recovered from the Toyota van bearing plate number A3 L057 four IEDs, four blasting caps, four digital watches, two cell phones, one commercial radio, assorted IDs, and four inches of detonating cords. “It could only mean one thing – they have plans to do bombing,” he said. In a conversation over the phone with Jumawan, Brawner ordered the release of suspect Al-Musab Abanto, whom Marantao residents said was only at the wrong place at the wrong time. Residents interviewed by MindaNews said Abanto was in the headquarters of reelectionist Vice Mayor Alahudin Maruhom just across the street when the explosion happened, so he approached and started taking video with his phone. It was at this time that soldiers accosted him. “We just needed to investigate him because he was at the crime scene,” Brawner said..

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