DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Defense Secretary and Martial Law administrator Delfin Lorenzana said the army will be relying more on troops and armored vehicles to deal with the remaining Maute rebels in Marawi.
This comes a day after 10 soldiers were killed, and seven were wounded by a misfired bomb on Wednesday. In a press briefing on Thursday, Lorenzana said the army will be limiting the use of air strikes.
Lorenzana also clarified that it was an ordinary bomb, not a “precision-guided munition” that hit the soldiers. It was the second of two bombs released from a Marchetti S-211 jet that hit the soldiers 100 meters away from the original target
The first bomb landed on its intended target “squarely,” Lorenzana said.
“We are trying to ascertain how it happened that the first hit the target, the second was far off. There must be some mistake there, either the men directing from the ground or the pilot,” he said.
The defense secretary said they did not have enough precision-guided munition at the time.
“We still have some precision-guided munitions. If they are released [the bomb] will really hit the target indicated, but we did not have enough,” he said.
Lorenzana said he is still confident that normalcy will be achieved on Friday, maintaining that only a few strong pockets of resistance remained after nine days of siege.
“Well, sa tingin ko naman because there’s only a small pocket there, one strong pocket of resistance, and if we can converge our troops there, the more we do not need the air strikes if there are troops surrounding the area already, then the more we do not need the strikes,” he said.
At least 21 government soldiers, 22 civilians, and 89 members of the Maute and Abu Sayyaf group have died in the ongoing siege, according to government data.
72 soldiers are also currently being treated.
Meanwhile, government statistics count some 218, 665 individuals have evacuated from Marawi to evacuation centers and relatives in surrounding towns and cities.