Nine women suspected of plotting to blow up military targets in the restive southern Philippines have been arrested, the army said Tuesday.

Nine women arrested over Philippine bomb plots: military

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Nine women suspected of plotting to blow up military targets in the restive southern Philippines have been arrested, the army said Tuesday.

Security forces detained the women and seized bomb-making equipment during raids on Friday of several homes on Muslim-majority Jolo island, a stronghold of the Islamic State-linked Abu Sayyaf group.

Most of the women were the daughters or widows of slain Abu Sayyaf fighters and included several “potential suicide bombers”, Major General William Gonzales said in a statement.

“This is how desperate the remaining terrorists are, willing to sacrifice their families just to get back at government forces,” Gonzales said.

The women had been monitored giving “financial or logistical support to their relatives” in Abu Sayyaf, First Lieutenant Jerrica Manongdo told AFP.

They allegedly planned to attack soldiers with improvised explosive devices.

Three of the women are the daughters of the late Abu Sayyaf leader Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, who was accused of planning the deadly attack on Jolo cathedral in 2019 which killed 21 people.

Their arrest comes six months after a pair of female suicide bombers, including an Indonesian, blew themselves up on Jolo, killing 15 people and wounding 74 others.

It was the country’s deadliest attack last year.

Listed by the United States as a terrorist organisation, Abu Sayyaf is a loose network of Islamist militants blamed for the Philippines’ worst terror attacks and kidnappings of foreign tourists and Christian missionaries. Agence France-Presse

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Duterte explains reason for refusing to wear face mask: ‘Hindi ako holdaper’

By Prince Golez

“Hindi ako holdaper.”

President Rodrigo Duterte had this to say to critics who faulted him for rarely wearing a face mask.

“I’ve been criticized. Tama kayo na ito si Duterte nagsasalita, hindi naman sinusunod, tama kayo, na hindi naman nagma-mask, tama kayo,” Duterte said in his televised speech Wednesday.

Speaking with a mask on can be uncomfortable, according to the Chief Executive.

“Eh hindi ako holdaper na sanay magsalita nitong naka (face mask) kaya tinatanggal ko.

“I run the risk of baka ako madali rin, may vice president man, siya na ang susunod. Wala tayong magawa,” he furthered.

Duterte orders governors, mayors to distribute free face masks

By Prince Golez

President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday directed local chief executives to distribute free face masks among the poor to protect them against the coronavirus disease.

“I leave it to the governor, mayor, barangay captain. Yung mga tao na walang-wala talaga, hindi makabili (ng face mask). Ang iba nga walang pagkain, hindi makabili ng ulam,” Duterte said in his weekly public address.

The Chief Executive said he requires the provincial and local governments to give out free masks to their constituents.

“Kung ayaw niyong gawin niyan ako ang magdala sa lugar ninyo. I will go to the City Hall at ibigay ko yung (face masks).

“Ayaw mo magbili, ako ang magdeliver. Ibigay mo sa mga tao. Ayaw mo gumastos, ako ang gagstos. I hope that does not really happen,” he also said.

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