Armed Forces of the Philippines Spokesperson Restituto Padilla Jr. gives updates on the military operations against the terrorists in Marawi City during the Mindanao Hour press briefing in Malacañang on June 2. Also in the photo is Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella. File

AFP: Maute hostages forced into marriages, sex slavery
Audrey Morallo (Philstar.com) - June 28, 2017 - 6:00am

MANILA, Philippines —Some women hostages have been forced to marry their terrorist captors, the military said Wednesday, a day after confirming reports that militants still holed up in a small part of Marawi City were pushing their captives to loot, take up arms and serve as sex slaves.

In a media conference in Malacañang, Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson, said that the information that hostages were being forced into marriages with some members of the Maute local terrorist group came from civilians who escaped captivity.

Padilla affirmed the statement that Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera, spokesperson for Joint Task Force Marawi, gave Tuesday that some former hostages said that they were being indoctrinated for conversion to the terrorists' version of Islam, made to carry wounded fighters and forced to marry Islamist militants.

“This is what is happening inside. This is very evident,” Herrera said in a press conference on Tuesday. “These are evil personalities.”

“Tungkol diyan sa balita na yan na may mga bihag na kababaihan sa loob na nagiging sex slaves, ito po ay impormasyon na binahagi ng mga nakalikas sa loob ng Marawi,” Padilla answered when asked about the source of their information on forced marriages.

“So maaring dati po silang mga hostages na nakatakas dahil nung mga patuloy na pagbobomba nung mga nakaraang linggo at sila po ang naglalahad nung mga balitang ito,” the Armed Forces spokesman said, emphasizing that the reports were not made up.

The hostages were able to escape the fighting in Marawi City, which has already entered its second month.

The clashes, which began on May 23, have already claimed the lives of 70 security personnel, 27 civilians and 290 Islamist militants, according to latest official information. It has also displaced most of Marawi’s 200,000 residents and civilians in neighboring areas.

According to information from the Palace, 403,052 persons are now living in temporary accommodations. These people include residents from 20 Lanao Del Sur and two Lanao Del Norte municipalities.

The fighting in Marawi City has worried neighboring Southeast Asian nations as the specter of a so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) foothold in the region looms.

Southeast Asia has seen deadly terror attacks in the past which have claimed hundreds of lives and made the region wary of militants in its midst. The siege of Marawi is believed to be an attempt to create an Islamic State of Iraq and Syria province in the region.

Security personnel have struggled to retake four Marawi villages still in militant hands as the rebels have proven difficult to overcome despite incessant ground and air pounding from the military.

Duterte said on Tuesday night, his first public appearance in days, that bombing Marawi was too much to bear. He has also vowed to rebuild Marawi, which has historical and religious importance to Mindanao's Muslims, to its former glory. 

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