The Daily Manila Shimbun


No more deadline to clear Marawi: Lorenzana

June 3, 2017

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana is no longer giving any deadline to clear Marawi of the Maute-ISIS Group, which he estimates to be 200-250 fighters. “We predicted last week that we could finish this yesterday, Friday. But it turns out we could not. There were some problems along the way. There are people there, still there, that are trapped and we cannot go there without endangering the safety. The defenders there, the Maute-ISIS Group, occupied some mosques and you know it’s really difficult to bomb these mosques,” Lorenzana said in a press briefing in Marawi City. “I cannot now tell you how many days more but we are going to finish this as soon as possible,”Lorenzana added. Lorenzana noted that the government troops have surrounded the area in the city that are  being occupied by the terrorist group. “As of now, the Banggolo area, the central business district was surrounded by troops and hopefully none of the fighters inside that we are trying to neutralize can get out. So, they will approach under the direction of Gen. Bautista and Gen. Galvez, (they) are going to do this slowly,” Lorenzana said “When we talk on the ending of this conflict, we cannot give any exact date and time but we assure you that we will finish this to the fullest,” Bautista said. Despite the neutralization of more than a hundred members of the terrorist group, Lorenzana admitted the government are looking at about 200 to 250 Maute Group members who are occupying some portions of the city. “The first time that we talked about this we only estimated 100 - 200 people at the early stages of the conflict then we revise to a higher number because there were only 200 of them and we were able to kill already close to 100 then how come they still strong but we get information from those who were inside,” he said. “At the start of the conflict, 500 minus the 100 that we killed accounted for, minus other that we have not accounted to maybe we are looking at another 200 to 250 still hold up there. If they are that many and they have sufficient firearms and the ammunition then I think they could still put up a good fight,” he added. Lorenzana mentioned the nationalities of the eight foreign terrorists who were killed. These are two from Saudi Arabia, two from Indonesia, two from Malaysia, one from Yemen and one from India. “So those are the foreigners that we can account for. There may be others there that were killed,” he said. (Robina Asido/DMS)