AFP chief downplays threat of remaining terrorists

ARMED Forces of the Philippines chief-of-staff Lieutenant General Eduardo Año referred to the 30 remaining Maute terrorists as stragglers who no longer poses a serious threat.

In a talk with reporters on Wednesday, October 18, after his talk to the personnel of the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) in Panacan, Davao City, he said that there are less than 30 terrorists, including foreigners, left in the main battle area in Marawi City with around 18 hostages still in their hands.

"The remaining 30 stragglers, hindi na sila nagco-constitute ng serious threat, minor nalang sila. In fact, we called them stragglers because they do not have leaders. They are no longer organized talagang they are just running for their own lives for survival," Año said. "And very soon we will get all of them."

The "stragglers," he said, include eight Indonesian and Malaysian terrorists.

He, however, said that the situation in Marawi is under control and the city will soon be cleared of terrorists soon.

The terrorists' force weakened after the deaths of the Abu Sayyaf Group leader Isnilon Hapilon and Maute Group leader Omarkhayyam Maute on Monday morning, October 16, after troops assaulted their position.

Aside from firefighting, the AFP is not closing its doors to those who want to surrender and wanted to live as they would give them another chance to lay down their arms, otherwise, the soldiers will continue to use force.

"Unang-una, binubukas natin ang palad natin sa kanila para mag-surrender. Meron tayong mga megaphones and public system na sinasabing mag-surrender na lang. That's the only way that they can get out alive of the main battle area," he said.

Año said they are taking things slow considering there are remaining hostages.

"We will continue to hunt these stragglers. If they will not surrender, it will be very easy. Less than one hectare nalang ang ginagalawan nila at siyempre kailangan mailigtas pa natin ang remaining hostages about 18 of them nandoon pa sa loob ng main battle area, just a matter of time," he said.

He added that they are just finding the perfect timing when to launch another attack against the enemy to rescue the hostages and neutralize terrorists.

As at October 16, around 824 terrorists were killed; 837 firearms recovered; and 1771 hostages were rescued. A total of 162 government security forces were killed-in-action and a thousand others more were wounded-in-action.

Reward

The United States' (US) Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has placed $5 million or P250 million for the head of Hapilon, which is set to be given to an informant who gave the location of the terrorist.

"Yung $5 million na inooffer ng US, meron tayong informant na sinasabi nating documented para magclaim ng reward. Hindi lang to isang informant kasi may [iba] talagang nagbigay ng information," he said, adding that it is now being processed.

He said there is a specific unit who will facilitate the documentation and validation under the leadership of Western Mindanao Commander (Wesmincom) commander Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez, Jr.

The National Government will also give the informant P10 million for Hapilon and P5 million for Maute, which he said is easier to process.

"Itong US reward, sa informant yan mapupunta at sa rehabilitation ng Marawi, sa government siya manggagaling ang funding at yan ay ibibigay sa Task Force Bangon Marawi na pinangungunahan ni Secretary Delfin Lorenzana," he said.
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