ILIGAN CITY – Three members of the ISIS-inspired Maute Group have surrendered to authorities after more than four months of flushing them from Marawi City where they attacked on May 23, the military said on Saturday, September 30.
Col Romeo Brawner, Deputy Spokesperson of Joint Task Force Ranao, said they cannot give complete details yet about the three surrenderees because they are still “processing” them.
“They said they surrendered kasi hirap na sila, wala nang makain,” Brawner said in a phone interview, Sunday evening.
(They surrendered because they are suffering, they have nothing to eat.)
Brawner said the military operation has continued, cornering the estimated 50 members of the militant group inside the remaining nine hectares in the main battle zone. He added that former hostages who escaped and were rescued recently said there are still 43 of them left in the hands of the militants.
Despite of the previous pronouncements by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana that the war will come to an end supposedly Saturday, September 30, Brawner said they are not setting deadline on their operations.
“May mga fighters pa sa loob at mga lider nila na kailangan pa nating kunin. May mga hostages pa rin na kailangan nating ma-rescue,” Brawner said. (There are still fighters and their leaders we need to capture. There are still hostages we need to rescue.)
Footage on looting
The military, on Friday morning, September 29, presented to the media aerial footage of the Maute group looting structures inside the main battle area in Marawi City, while an intense fire fight against the government troops is on-going.
Col Manny Garcia of the Joint Task Force Ranao said the footage was taken by the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
He said this reinforce the revelations of former hostages that the Maute group fighters are looting important materials inside the main battle area. “The video is undated and the exact location is still being studied with the help of local officials,” Garcia said in a message to reporters.
The military also presented six sacks of coins recovered from the battle zone, saying the terrorists used the coins as shrapnel in making improvised explosive devices.
“In previous incidents, we are wondering why some wounded (soldiers) have coins in their wounds. Ito pala ‘yun, ngayon natin na establish na ginagamit nila ang mga coins as shrapnel,” Garcia said. (This was it. We establish now that they are using the coins as shrapnel.)
On Thursday, September 28, government troops recovered four automated teller machine money vaults from Landbank. After presenting it to the media, they immediately turned over the items to the bank’s security manager.
“The money vaults were not opened although some were obviously burned but intact. Improvised grenade with coins as shrapnel, more than 80 firearms and more than 60 burned black flag, and some unexploded ordnance were also recovered by troops from the MBA,” Garcia said.
Lordvin Acopio, one of the former hostages who escaped and eventually rescued by the military with the priest Chito Soganub, said some terrorists were hiding inside the main vault of Landbank during airstrikes.
In the first few weeks of the siege, the military said the terrorists were looting important items, including firearms, ammunition, money and sets of jewelry, and employing hostages as looters by schedule.
In the second week of the crisis, the marines recovered P52M cash and P27M worth of cheques from the militants’ machine gun position. (davaotoday.com)