Duterte: Marawi City ‘liberated from terrorists’
MARAWI CITY — President Rodrigo Duterte declared on Tuesday that the city is now liberated from terrorists.
Speaking before the troops here, Duterte said: “Ladies and gentlemen, I hereby declare Marawi City liberated from the terrorist influence. That marks the beginning of rehabilitation.”
“Mga mahal kong sundalo, ang problema ko, ang mga nasugatan ngayon, marami yan. I can guarantee you, sinasabi ko na sa inyo ngayon, walang iwanan ipupwesto ko silang lahat,” Duterte also said.
The nearly five months of fighting saw the killing of two radical leaders — Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute, who led the siege on May 23.
“The declaration of PRRD marks the beginning of the recovery, reconstruction and rehabilitation of Marawi,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement.
Abella, however, said it is not yet advisable for residents to return to the besieged city.
“Our ground commanders will determine if it is safe for residents to return to the city as there may still be traps and unexploded ordnance in some areas,” he said. “We will defer to their assessment and await their recommendation.”
The Palace official called on the public to unite as the government vowed to seriously rehabilitate the city.
“The damage to the Islamic city’s infrastructure and private properties and the displacement of thousands of residents require the government’s unified and comprehensive effort; thus, we call on all our citizens to come together to move our country forward towards a peaceful, prosperous and secure future,” he said.
“This is the time to channel our time and harness our energies to restore normalcy in the war-torn city and serve people’s aspirations for a comfortable life for all,” he added.
Major Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr., spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), meanwhile, said there were only about 30 “stragglers” that included six to eight foreigners, who are still battling against government forces here.
Padilla said that among the foreigners fighting here included Malaysian terrorist Dr. Mahmud Ahmad, believed to be the financier of the so-called Marawi siege.
“There (is also) still in existence about 20 to 30 armed elements, stragglers if you may call them, of the groups,” Padilla said.
“Dr. Mahmud remains to be one of our high-value targets in the operations still being conducted,” he also said.
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