From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 16): ‘Significantly degraded’ terrorist forces no longer capable of launching Marawi-like attacks — AFP
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Friday assured that terrorist forces in Mindanao have been considerably weakened that they could no longer mount an attack that is similar in scope to what they did in Marawi City.
“Safe to say, I can tell you, they (Maute group) don’t have the capacity to do what they did in Marawi anymore. Their capabilities have been significantly degraded,” said AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr. during the Mindanao Hour press briefing in Malacañang.
“So any kind of action of that extent will not happen in Iligan and Cagayan de Oro. And we are taking up proactive measures to ensure that even an attempt to sow some confusion or sow terror in these areas by small actions will be prevented,” he said.
The military official made the assurance amid reports that a number of militants have managed to escape from Marawi City and are now in Iligan and Cagayan de Oro.
Padilla acknowledged that some militants may have slipped through the security cordon by mingling with fleeing evacuees but assured that heightened security measures are in place to secure the outlying communities.
“That’s why we have coordinated with local government and other security partners to heighten their security posture. So there is a heightened security measure that is employed or enforced now in Iligan and Cagayan de Oro to check and to watch closely any possible movements of suspicious persons so that communities remain safe,” he said.
He also reminded the public, particularly citizens in areas of concern, to be partners of increasing the security posture by being vigilant, alert, and watchful of their surroundings.
“And again, I would like to emphasize, even if I sound like a broken record, that every citizen should be part and should be responsible for watching over their surroundings and cooperating with government in that matter,” Padilla said.
President Rodrigo Duterte placed the entire Mindanao under martial law after fighting broke out between security forces and members of the Maute terrorist group on May 23.
The fighting started when security forces attempted to arrest Abu Sayyaf senior leader Isnilon Hapilon, who was reportedly appointed by the Islamic State as its “emir” for Southeast Asia.
The AFP said the clashes prevented a bigger attack that the terrorists had planned, as confirmed in a confiscated video which showed Hapilon and Maute group leaders Omar and Abdullah are planning the takeover of Marawi City.
At least 26 civilians and 59 government troops have died since the clashes erupted.
Meanwhile, 225 extremists, including several foreign Islamist militants, have been killed.