by Bill Casas
THE Palace on Sunday lauded government troops for retaking the Masiu Bridge, which they said was significant in ending the rebellion in Marawi City.
“Control of the Masiu Bridge is a significant development in our goal of ending the rebellion in Marawi,” said Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella in a statement.
Masiu Bridge is closest to Lake Lanao and is a possible escape route of the remaining terrorist rebels still holed up in the main battle area in Marawi City, Abella said.
“Government troops are now in the final push and despite the enemy’s continued resistance, our recent successes would hopefully lead to the eventual liberation of the entire city and pave the way back to normalcy,” Abella said.
Generals leading the fight against local terror groups in Marawi City crossed the remaining critical bridges in the battle area Sunday morning, Sept. 24, to mark a “significant progress” in the battle area.
“At 10 a.m. today, Sept. 24, 2017, Major Generals Rolando Bautista and Danilo Pamonag, commander of the Joint Task Force Marawi and commander of the Joint Special Operations Task Force Trident, respectively, crossed for the first time since the start of the Marawi siege, the Bayabao Bridge and the Masiu Bridge,” said Task Group Ranao deputy commander Col. Romeo Brawner.
It was a symbolic march of victory over the hard-fought bridges, strongholds that the Marines were assigned to retake.
The Palace also said the release of the Lanao del Sur drug matrix underscored the ties between illegal drugs and criminal and terrorist activities.
On Friday, President Rodrigo Duterte showed journalists the “Lanao del Sur (LDS) Drug Trade Linked Diagram” with the names of and connections among drug personalities who are allegedly funding the Islamic State (ISIS)-inspired Maute terrorists in Marawi City.
“Local politicians in Mindanao adversely affected by the government’s campaign against illegal drugs have financed the Daesh-inspired Maute Group, whose attempt to undermine our sovereignty resulted in the rebellion in Marawi,”Abella said in a statement.
Abella said the information gave more reason for the government forces to destroy the drug apparatus to protect Filipinos and secure communities.
Duterte has released a “matrix” of drug lords and politicians who allegedly funded the deadly siege in Marawi City, which entered its fourth month on Saturday.
The President said the matrix was a result of intelligence work in the last three months, when government troops were able to gain access to Marawi.
“That’s for public consumption already. The details on how they operated the drug campaign in Marawi and the entire of Mindanao…I told them that we should make it public already, it’s no use keeping it a secret, for what? We cannot consume it. That would explain really the many killings here,” Duterte said.
“There they discovered that the Maute [group] was really preparing for a long haul. Until now, they have never ran out of ordnance, explosives, ammunitions, and all. I really do not know the extent now of the contamination,” he added.