SECURITY forces will continue to conduct military offensives against Maute terrorists in Marawi City despite the pullout of troops, Malacañang said Saturday, October 21.
"The start of the military pullout in Marawi does not signal the end of fighting between our troops and Maute terrorist-stragglers," Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement.
This development came after the Army's 1st Infantry Battalion was pulled out from Marawi City after nearly five months of sporadic fighting in the city.
Military spokesperson Major General Restituto Padilla Jr. on Thursday said the first batch of soldiers had been sent off for a "much-needed break" following President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of liberation of the conflict-torn city from the terrorist influence.
Padilla said the 1st Infantry Battalion would be replaced by another unit of the Joint Task Group Ranao under Brigadier General Ramil Rey.
Abella said the state troops would remain on the lookout for the possible security threats from undefeated terrorists.
"While enemy force has greatly diminished, we will continue to be alert and assure the residents of the city that we will not compromise its security with the presence of some units of the Armed Forces," he said.
"We cannot afford to drop our guard for possible threats coming from the remaining network of the Daesh-inspired terrorist group still operating as we begin the challenging task of rebuilding, reconstruction and rehabilitation of Marawi," Abella added.
The President declared on October 16 that Marawi was now free from the hands of Islamist fighters after the military killed two top terror leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute.
He said Marawi's liberation marks the government's rehabilitation efforts in the strife-torn city, which is home to 200,000 displaced individuals.
On Friday, Abella said the President is not yet keen to lift martial law in Mindanao, which will expire on year-end, so as not to risk public safety. (SunStar Philippines)