Prices of basic commodities in ARMM steady

The Mindanao Examiner Regional Newspaper - - News - (Bureau of Public Information)

DAVAO CITY – Local police continue to investigate the arrested patriarch of the Maute family, whose members are leaders of the local ISIS group battling troops in the war-torn city of Marawi in southern Philippines.

A member of the rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Cayamora Maute, the father of ISIS leaders Omar and Abdullah Maute, was arrested last week at a checkpoint in Toril district together with one of his wives Kongan Alfonso Balawag and daughter Norhana Balawag Maute, their driver Aljon Salazar Ismael and another man, Benzarali Tingao.

A pistol and an improvised explosive, including some P360,000 in cash were also seized from Maute in their rented van while attempting to enter Davao. The patriarch was also carrying several identification cards with different names, according to Army Brigadier General Gilbert Gapay, of the Eastern Mindanao Command during a news briefing at the headquarters of the local police force.

Gapay said soldiers and policemen manning the checkpoint became suspicious of the group when they spotted a pile of clothes inside the van and inspected the vehicle until they found the gun and the improvised explosive.

He said further investigation revealed that Maute is included in the wanted Maute terrorist poster displayed at the checkpoint. "The searching troops were in doubt that something is being concealed under the pile of clothes inside a van that prompted them to conduct a thorough search and found the pistol and improvised explosive device and eventually led to the arrest of the suspect and the others. He was also identified on photo gallery posted at the checkpoint," Gapay said.

But police said what were recovered from the vehicle was a grenade and a pistol. Both were found in a compartment behind the front seat. The elder Maute denied knowledge of the gun or the grenade and said he is sick. He said he had not seen his two sons in recent months and was not aware of the violence involving the Maute brothers.

The driver, whose family runs a fleet of passenger vans, also denied ownership of the gun and grenade. Gapay said the arrest of the elder Maute was a big blow to the local ISIS still holed out in Marawi.

He said the arrest of the elder Maute was a big blow to the local ISIS still holed out in Marawi.

“This is a big blow to the Maute Group, the arrest is a manifestation that they cannot run away from the long arm of the law. We appreciate the vigilance and alertness of cooperation of the public of our troops that COTABATO CITY – Prices of prime commodities in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) remain stable, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said.

“Hindi totoo ang kumakalat na balita na umabot na sa limang libong piso ang presyo ng isang sakong bigas,stable ang presyo ng bilihin,” said DTIARMM Secretary Anwar Malang as he clarified issues on the alleged increases in prices of goods in Lanao del Sur.

“We are reminding our retailers to comply with the set price ceiling,” he said. A price freeze of commodities was automatically enforced in Mindanao after President Rodrigo Duterte declared Martial Law for 60 days on May 23 following clashes between the government troops and terror groups in Marawi City.

Under Republic Act 7581, or the Price Act, price freeze on basic necessities shall be automatically implemented in areas under a state of calamity. The measure covers basic goods including canned sardines, processed milk, bottled water, locally manufactured instant noodles, coffee, detergent soap, bread, candles, salt, rice, corn, cooking oil, fresh pork, fresh beef, fresh poultry meat, fresh and dried fish and other marine products, fresh egg, fresh milk, fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, root crops and sugar.

Sec. Malang said his office is conducting weekly price monitoring not only in Lanao del Sur but in other provinces of the ARMM as well. “We are intensifying the monitoring to check if business establishments are complying with the price freeze order,” he said.

Because of the recent crisis in Marawi City, the department has organized and deployed two special price monitoring teams in Lanao del Sur, he said. The monitoring covers the municipalities of Buadipuso Buntong, Ditsaan-ramain, Poona Bayabao, Tamparan, Malabang, Ganassi, Marantao and Watu Balindong.

Sec. Malang said reports on the field indicated price increases of only up to 10% in the municipalities of Marantao and Ditsaanramain. “The minimal increases in prices (of basic goods) in those areas (Marantao and Ditsaanramain) are justifiable on account of transportation costs incurred in the hauling of goods from suppliers in Iligan City,” he said.

Supply of basic commodities in Lanao del Sur comes from the cities of Iligan in Lanao del Norte, Cagayan de Oro in Misamis Oriental, and Pagadian in Zamboanga del Sur. Penalties for those who violate the price freeze include a fine ranging from P5,000 to P1,000,000 and/or imprisonment from one to 10 years.

Price control of basic necessities remains while Martial Law is in effect. Billboards on the price ceiling of basic goods, price freeze advisories, and other relevant information will be posted all over the region through the DTI-ARMM’S provincial offices.

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