Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said on Friday that the government intends to sweep Marawi City, scene of more than two weeks of armed conflict between security forces and the terrorist Maute Group, sufficiently clean to raise the national flag on Monday, June 12, in time for celebrating Independence Day.
Padilla said, this will also symbolize the liberation of Marawi from the clutches of terrorists.
He cited factors that drove this optimism, including indications of withering firepower on the part of the Maute Group remnants still holding out, and the tendency of their snipers to reduce the intensity of their actions.
Padilla observed that the most recent feedback from the field was that the Maute fighters have been cornered into no more than three enclaves, which makes it possible to launch operations for essentially wrapping the situation by Monday.
But even if this comes true, Padilla cautioned, it does not necessarily mean the lifting of the declaration of martial law, because the present lair of the enemy is not confined solely in Marawi City, but could have an expansive network extending to other nodes in Mindanao.
The government forces, he underscored, will not just leave Marawi so casually but ensure that everything is in place to enable the city’s return to normalcy and with the capacity to ward off any similar contingency in the future.
“Tutulungan po namin na bumangon muli ang Marawi sa mabilis na panahon (We will help Marawi get back on its feet in the quickest time possible).”
In a related development, Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella clarified that President Rodrigo Duterte never intended to heap a blanket blame on the Maranao people for the Marawi Crisis.
Abella said President Duterte was simply expressing his anger at the few Maranao sympathizers – not all of them in general – who unthinkingly made it possible for the terrorists to gain a foothold and wreak havoc in their city.
“I doubt if its a blanket blame, but I’m sure that what he was referring to were basically the sympathizers.”
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