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‘We’ll get Hapilon’

By GENALYN KABILING

It is only a matter of time before government forces capture Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, believed to have remained in the battle area in Marawi City, Malacañang said Sunday.

Presidential spoeskman Ernesto Abella said there were reports that Hapilon might have escaped the battle but military information indicated otherwise.

“We will get Isnilon Hapilon,” Abella said in a statement about the wanted terrorist.

“Recent military assessments indicate that he is still very much in Marawi. Our forces are hot on their heels and it will only be a matter of time before we get him,” Abella said.

Abella said reports claiming Hapilon was spotted in Basilan were “raw information” that must still be further validated by the military and various government security agencies.

“Granting Isnilon Hapilon’s whereabouts in Basilan is true, it would mean that he chose to abandon his men as the battle of Marawi nears its final stretch,” he added.

Hapilon is among the terrorists wanted by the government following his group’s involvement in the violent siege on Marawi City last May. A bungled government attempt to arrest Hapilon triggered the rampage of the Islamic State-linked militants who overran parts of the city.

The Marawi conflict has left more than 600 terrorists killed so far.

President Duterte recently said he expects the conflict to be over soon, promising to rebuild the war-torn city into a much better community.

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