Saving Geraldine*

SAVING innocent people in the war zones of Marawi City is next to impossible but miracles happen even during these perilous times when Islamist groups like Maute and Abu Sayyaf are in control of some parts of the scenic Muslim dominated city by the shores of Lake Lanao.

The rescue of Geraldine, the 32-year old beloved wife of ex-Philippine Coast Guard personnel Saipoding Mariga, is among the many miracles that happen daily in Marawi. Saipoding couldn’t believe himself when he saw his wife alive, albeit wounded, while on her way to a nearby hospital on an ambulance stretcher.

The 45-year old Saipoding, who maintains a buy and sell stall in his home in Paco, Manila; immediately went to Marawi after learning of the Maute siege with the intention of bringing his wife and seven children to safety.

Moro Islamic Liberation Front volunteers were able to pluck all of his children from danger and brought them to a safe place but failed to rescue the already wounded Geraldine as she could no longer move inside the family home along Lucman Street. It was the members of the Philippine Army Scout Rangers (Musang) and a few volunteers who were able to do so amid the hail of gunfire.

FREEBLANCE first met Saipoding on June 4 (the 13th day of the siege) while he was desperately looking for someone to help him rescue his wife.

Rescuers and government authorities no longer want to listen to me. I want to rescue her (Geraldine) even if I am alone, even if no one will accompany me,” Saipoding said.

Nevertheless, it was the succeeding efforts of FREEBLANCE that led Saipoding to the right people and the eventual rescue of Geraldine.

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The 60-day Martial Law in Mindanao to defeat Maute-ISIS-linked terrorists and to end Marawi war is okay. In fact even the Supreme Court says so.

FREEBLANCE, however, believe that it is necessary to extend its duration to wipe out, if not neutralize, ISIS terrorists in Mindanao. It is also necessary for the execution of the “marshall plan” to rebuild Marawi and help its war-battered people.

Extending martial law is okay but not for five years or the remaining duration of President Rodrigo Duterte’s term as suggested by some. That will not just fly.

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The ISIS’ Mosul lair in Iraq where 45-year old Islamist Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed a Caliphate in 2014 signals the end of his terrorist group, which gained fame because of its asymmetric military tactics, brutality and land grabbing. Al-Baghdadi is also believed to have been killed in a recent Russian airstrike.

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North Korea’s to have the capability to strike the United States mainland with nuclear missiles, despite being unproven, is alarming. Let us pray that the North Korean leader is just bluffing and that he will never be insane to launch a nuclear war that will be catastrophic for all.

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FREEBLANCE condoles with the bereaved family, friends, and classmates of Thomasian Guiller “Bong” Prospero, 52, (AB Economics Batch 1986 UST) who recently passed away due to lingering illness. Our heartfelt prayers.












* The opinion of this author is his/hers alone. It is not necessarily the views of Beyond Deadlines.

John Ambayec Gilbuena, Ll.B.
John Gilbuena is a journalism graduate from the University of Santo Tomas and a holder of a law degree from Adamson University. He is a veteran reporter of different Manila based newspaper and foreign news wire agencies. He is a triathlete and author of "Fourth World War: The Road to Damascus," a book about the rise of Muslim fundamentalist sects in Syria and Iraq.

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