Duterte OKs creation of 'peace corridor' with MILF in Marawi

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 31) — President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the creation of a "peace corridor" or a secure space to ensure the safety of civilians and humanitarian groups amid the terror crisis in Marawi City.

The "peace corridor" aims to "hasten the rescue and humanitarian operations for civilians still trapped in the conflict zone in Marawi," Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said Wednesday, quoting a statement from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jess Dureza.

The efforts are spearheaded by the implementing panels of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and are a result of the President's meeting with Moro leaders in Davao City last Monday.

Also read: MILF ready to help with Marawi crisis, Moro leaders tell Duterte 

"The peace corridor is a secure space where humanitarian groups may evacuate wounded and trapped civilians and retrieve dead bodies for burial,"  said Irene Santiago, chairperson of the government implementing panel.

The President designated Santiago to oversee humanitarian efforts in Marawi.

"The corridor is also a safe space for goods to reach hungry people in the rural areas whose access to Marawi's markets have been cut off," she added.

Peace-Corridor_CNNPH.jpg Map shows the 73-kilometer "peace corridor" route from Marawi City to Malabang town in Lanao del Sur.  

Abella said the government and the MILF panels, particularly the Joint Coordinating Committees on the Cessation of Hostilities, will meet in the coming week to talk about its implementation.

Authorities said over a thousand civilians remain trapped in Marawi City, where clashes between government troops and the Maute terror group prompted Duterte to declare martial law in the entire Mindanao on May 23.

As of Tuesday, 89 Maute members, 21 government troops, and 19 civilians were killed in Marawi, the military said. Some 960 civilians have been rescued.

The Maute is a local armed group led by the Maute family, who are believed to be former members of the MILF.

Duterte earlier invited rebel groups to join the military in fighting the terrorists. Aside from the MILF expressing williness to help extend humanitarian aid, Duterte said Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founder Nur Misuari offered to recruit rebels to help solve the terror crisis in Marawi.