Nine hurt in presidential advance security convoy but Duterte will proceed to Marawi
Nine members of a convoy of the Presidential Security Group to secure President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit on Wednesday in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, were injured after an improvised bomb exploded as they were passing along the highway, the military said Tuesday.
But President Rodrigo Duterte said he will push through with his trip to Marawi City even as he admitted there is “trouble” in Mindanao but added that “it is within control.”
Brig. Gen Restituto Padilla, Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman, said seven Presidential Security Group members and two soldiers were injured in the roadside bombing.
Padilla said one PSG member had “serious injuries.”
In a speech during the inauguration of a drug rehabilitation center in Nueva Ecija, Duterte said he will visit the wounded members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) and of the Army in the hospital.
"I will have to fly tomorrow to go there...the advance party (which) belongs to the Presidential Security Group was ambushed. But I'm going there," he said.
Duterte said when he goes to Marawi City, he would take the same route as those of his advance party which were attacked.
"May be we can have a little gunfight here and there. If I can't make it, we have the vice president," Duterte said in jest.
The military has been conducting operations against Maute Group, a local terror organization since last week, which according to Duterte has connections with the terrorist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Another military spokesman, Col. Edgard Arevalo, said soldiers “have not occupied the specific portion where members of the Maute Group are located but operations are ongoing.”
The military claimed to have killed 40 Maute Brothers’ Group members during the ongoing combat, but Arevalo said the operation is “not easy.”
“They were already there at the built-up area so they are very cautious in entering because there are snipers. There are possible improvised explosive devices along the way so they would have to be very cautious,” Arevalo added.
Arevalo said the number of wounded soldiers has risen to 20. Arevalo also emphasized the Maute Group are “pressing up their resistance.”
“They are continuing with their resistance and we are saying that it is not going to be easy but we will continue and we will press on,” Arevalo said.
In an interview, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana emphasized a possible link of Maute Group to the international terrorist group called ISIS but he noted that the group was not formally recognized by the ISIS.
“It seems that there is a link between the two (ISIS and Maute Group) because sometimes Maute display the ISIS flag, the black (flag) and although we do not yet have confirmation if they were accepted by the ISIS. If they really have formal connection, the Maute group is attempting to include their group on the worldwide organization of ISIS,” he said. Celerina Monte, Robina Asido/DMS