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Terrorists accused of looting P.5B in Marawi

By GENALYN KABILING

More than P500 million worth of cash and valuable items have been stolen by Islamic militant groups and criminal gangs amid the raging conflict in Marawi City, a Palace official said yesterday.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said the militants belonging to Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups have forced some hostages to do their dirty work and even implemented a daily looting schedule.

The “disturbing revelations” of looting of abandoned houses and buildings were shared by Marawi residents recently rescued by government troops, according to Abella.

“Fresh from inside Marawi comes disturbing narratives of looting, burglary and theft,” Abella said during a Palace news conference. “The rescued and escaped hostages said they were forced to loot and steal under duress and upon instruction and supervision of Maute/ASG rebels and local criminals,” he said.

The militants have reportedly compelled some hostages to ransack houses and establishments for firearms, cash, and jewelry. The hostages were reportedly threatened with death if they do not follow orders.

“They estimate that their group alone was able to loot and steal at least P500 million in cash, not to include other items they have taken from households and business establishments,” Abella said.

The hostages reportedly followed a “daily routine looting-stealing schedule” upon the orders of the rebels. Looting supposedly started at 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., followed by a lunch break. They resume the theft until 3 p.m. when they return to their detention place, according to Abella.

“They believe that the amount of cash and valuable items looted could be worth more as there were several other groups being forced by terrorists to loot and steal for them,” he added.

The looting spree comes amid government operations to flush out the militants linked to the Islamic State from Marawi City.

As of July 3, 337 terrorists have been killed the fighting while 410 high-powered weapons have been recovered. The conflict has also left 85 government troops and 39 civilians dead.

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