The Daily Manila Shimbun


Philippine military fails to meet goal of clearing Marawi of terrorists by June 2

June 2, 2017

The Philippine military failed to clear Marawi City of Islamic State-linked Maute Terror Group on Friday, the initial target eyed by the defense department. In the "Mindanao Hour" press briefing in Malacanang, Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr. said the remaining militants in Marawi are resisting. "It was a deadline that was set forth and provided by the Secretary of National Defense so we can aim for it. But the final decision actually rests on the ground commander. And based on the report that we’re getting I don’t think we can meet that deadline today to completely --- I’d like to qualify that --- to completely free Marawi of every single armed element in every street," Padilla said. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the government troopers might clear Marawi of  Maute members by June 2. "So until such time that every member of this armed group, this rebellious group that still wants to make a stand inside Marawi exists, we cannot totally say we have cleared Marawi," Padilla said. But he said the government forces were doing their best to accomplish the mission immediately. The Marawi crisis is on its eleventh day after Maute militants started occupying the area on May 23, prompting President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law in the whole of Mindanao. Contrary to reports, Padilla said Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, the anointed ISIS leader in the Philippines, is still in Marawi. "There are much information that says and indicates he’s still there," he said. He also clarified the statement earlier by Lorenzana government troopers were running out of ammunition in Marawi. "Your Armed Forces will never run out of ammunition...we have the general arsenal to keep on producing.  And even if they want to keep this fight up to the end of this month, or this week, or whatever, we are determined to take care of all these forces that have brought and disturb the peace, brought violence and disturb the peace to the peace-loving community of Marawi," he said. He said the military would not halt its air strikes even after the unfortunate incident where 10 soldiers were killed when the Air Force jet dropped a bomb that supposedly targetted the terrorists. "No, we are not. The incident that occurred the other day involved a particular aircraft and this will be the subject of the Board of Inquiry," he said when asked if the military would suspend the air strikes. But he said the aircraft and the crew involved have all been pulled out and are administratively back in their headquarters for debriefing and counseling. (Celerina Monte/DMS)