MANILA (Updated) -- The Philippine Marines discovered P79 million in cash and checks in a house, which served as the Maute Group's machine gun outpost, in Marawi City on Monday afternoon, June 5.
According to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), P52 million in cash and P27 million in checks were found during a clearing operation near Mapandi bridge, one of the areas occupied by the local terror group.
Also recovered was an M-16 rifle after Marine troops, led by First Lieutenant Frederick Savellano of the Marine Battalion Landing Team-7's 37th Marine Company, neutralized a sniper of the Maute Group inside the house, said Captain Jo-ann Petinglay of the Western Mindanao Command.
First Infantry Division spokesperson Major Jo-Ar Herrera said the AFP was still checking the owner of the house where the money and firearm were recovered.
"We don't know yet who owns the house where the money was found," said Herrera in a press conference in Marawi City.
After inventory, Herrera said the cash and checks were secured and turned over to the Joint Task Force Marawi for safekeeping.
Brigadier General Restituto Padilla, AFP spokesperson, said the recovery of the money "debunks claims that troops have been involved in looting as claimed by some quarters."
Padilla stressed that the recovery of the money and its subsequent turnover to authorities show that the AFP is doing its job "with honor, integrity, and on high moral ground."
For Brigadier General Joselito Rolando Bautista, commander of Task Force Marawi, the recovery breaks the propaganda of Maute Group and their sympathizers accusing government soldiers of every conceivable crime.
"In contrast, the Maute/ASG (Abu Sayyaf Group) vandalized, looted and burned school buildings, hospital rooms, houses and destroyed many properties in Marawi," he said.
He commended the Marine troops for their act of honesty, as he pointed the destruction done by terrorists.
"We are proud of our soldiers in the field. Their commendable actions in caring for our people bespeak of the best practices in the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines)," Bautista said.
Padilla, meanwhile, confirmed that there was considerably less resistance among the remaining Maute terrorists in Marawi compared to the first few days of fighting.
"That (lessening of resistance and lower of volume of fire) means that they are low on supply, low on everything," Padilla added.
The clash erupted on May 23 as the Islamic State-inspired local terror group prevented state forces from arresting its leader, Isnilon Hapilon.
He said it would depend on the ground commander on when will Marawi be cleared of terrorists. "We will wait for the ground commander's assessment of the situation," he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte has placed the entire Mindanao under martial law following the gunbattle between government forces and the Maute group.
As of Tuesday, June 6, the AFP said 120 members of the Maute Group and 38 government troopers were killed, while at least 20 civilians were killed in crossfire. (Third Anne Peralta/Bong Garcia/PNA/SunStar Philippines)