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Gov’t working ‘OT’ to free Marawi

By: Genalyn D. Kabiling

Government troops are working “overtime” to liberate Marawi City from the clutches of terrorists despite facing some operation difficulties, a military spokesman said yesterday.

Armed Forces spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said the military must still clear less than 1,000 houses and buildings in Marawi and deal with around 80 remaining militants in the area.

“The Armed Forces, given the fact that it has not been announcing any deadlines, is working overtime to expedite the process of the liberation of Marawi,” Padilla said during the “Mindanao Hour” briefing in Malacañang.

“Batid naman po ninyo na hindi ganon kadali itong operasyon na ‘to at sa mga paliwanag natin ‘nong mga nakaraang linggo, itong environment na kinaroroonan ng bakbakang ito ay hindi biro,” he said.

Padilla said the military operation has been “progressing positively” in Marawi although there are still four remaining problematic barangays.

He said there are still areas of intense fighting between troops and rebels, which indicated the enemies may still have enough stockpile of weapons.

He said Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon is still believed in Marawi, contrary to reports he may have escaped. “Our operations are focused on the possible area where he is believed to be still in hiding. I could not disclose that exact location,” he said.

On the reported death of some Maute leaders, Padilla said he has to confirm such report. “As to the death of some of the Maute brothers, there is indication that one has died but until such time that the grave on where he was buried is located, we cannot categorically confirm. But for the others, we believe they are alive,” he said.

Once the buildings in Marawi are cleared, Padilla said these are occupied by government troops to prevent the return of the enemies.