Duterte declares Marawi liberated from "terrorist influence"
President Rodrigo Duterte declared on Tuesday that war-torn Marawi City has been liberated from the "terrorist influence".
For the sixth time, Duterte visited Marawi .His visit took place a day after Islamic State-inspired terrorist leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute were killed in early firefight with the government troops on Monday.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I hereby declare Marawi City liberated from the terrorist influence. That marks the beginning of rehabilitation," he said in a speech.
But in the "Mindanao Hour" press briefing earlier in the day in Malacanang, Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr., spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said the military continues to pursue about "20 to 30 armed elements, stragglers" in Marawi.
"And among these are about six to eight foreigners, foreign terrorists to include the notorious foreign national, Malaysian, by the name of Dr. Mahmud who was the financier of the Marawi siege," he said, noting the foreigners were mostly Malaysians and Indonesians.
He said Mahmud, an academic, remains to be one of the high-value targets in the operations still being conducted.
"So he ( Mahmud) was the one responsible for the direct linkage of Hapilon to the larger group of the Daesh. And it was he who provided the funding that was necessary to bankroll the siege of Marawi. So I cannot recall the exact amount but it seems like it’s about $300[,000] or $600,000 that he brought in," he said.
"So he may have allowed this to be brought in through the backdoor --- through the backdoors of our country or through other channels. And this is the subject of things that we still have to ascertain," he added.
Padilla said the government troops still have to clear about 60 to 80 buildings with possible improvised explosive devices.
In the same speech, Duterte assured oldiers, particularly those wounded, will be assisted by the government.
"I guarantee you, no one would be left behind," he said. Celerina Monte/DMS