MNLF in Marawi on standby to fight against Maute

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(CNN Philippines, May 31) — Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) fighters are positioned within and around Marawi City ready to help fight the terror group Maute.

But they will wait for the government to come up with guidelines on their coordination with the military.

MNLF Davao City head Rolando Olamit said they have several camps in Lanao del Sur and have fighters inside the city.

"Nandoon na sila, kaya lang ipa-stand down natin sila kasi papasok na yung mga military forces, Armed Forces of the Philippines," Olamit said.

[Translation: They're already there, but they're asked to stand down because military forces are coming in.]

He revealed that when the Maute fighters attacked Marawi City on May 23, some MNLF fighters were nearby but kept out of the conflict to avoid suspicion they are with the terrorists.

"To avoid itong mga mis-encounters, pina-stand down natin kasi kabila lang, bahay…sabi ko para hindi kayo mapagkamalan diyan na Maute, raise the flag of the MNLF," Olamit said.

[Translation: To avoid these mis-encounters, we asked them to stand down because houses are just nearby…I told then to raise the MILF flag so they won't be mistakenly identified as Maute.]

The MNLF official said as much as they wanted to take part in the offensive against the Maute, the MNLF fighters are avoiding getting caught in the crossfire.

"Galit sila talaga diyan sa Maute, yung mga MNLF natin doon…may mga friction na 'yan eh, kaya hindi na kami pwede mag-kwan sa kanila habang nandiyan ang militar kasi operations…nandoon sila sa loob ng Marawi, standby lang sila in marching order galing sa ating chairman Nur Misuari," Olamit said.

[Translation: Our MNLF our really in conflict with the Maute…they have friction, that's why we couldn't conduct operations because the military is also there…the MNLF are inside Marawi, they're on standby and in marching order from our chairman Nur Misuari.]

Olamit added about 5,000 MNLF fighters are on standby to join the fight not just in Marawi, but in other areas as well that have presence of ISIS-inspired Maute.

Meanwhile, Davao-based Maranao leader Randy Usman appealed to the military to stop air strikes on Marawi, claiming collateral; damage among civilians.

Usman instead urged the military to deploy commandos to neutralize only the Maute fighters.

AFP Eastern Mindanao Command spokesman Brig. Gen. Gilbert Gapay, however, said aerial support is necessary against Maute snipers.

He assured the public that the air strikes are only targeting specific areas.