ZAMBOANGA CITY , Philippines — It will take only one more week for Army soldiers to finish the Marawi crisis as Marine troopers have cleared and defeated the Maute terrorists in their area of operation, a security official said yesterday.
Rear Adm. Rene Medina, chief of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao, said his men have completed their mission and started to pull out from their designated area of battle.
The Marines were responsible for retaking three bridges that connect the eastern and western parts of the city.
In the almost four months of fighting, several Marine soldiers were killed, particularly during the retaking of the Mapandi bridge.
Marine troopers are now helping the Army defeat dozens of Maute terrorists still holed up in mosques and buildings located within the nine-hectare battle zone, Medina said.
He said the Marines lent their equipment such as B300 tanks and 90RR or recoilless rockets to the Army.
The Army’s operation area, Medina said, remained tough due to the presence of more than 20 civilian hostages, whom the terrorists used as shields. He said government troops were fighting 30 to 40 terrorists.
Medina said they are verifying reports that most of the Maute leaders including Isnilon Hapilon had been killed.
The Marine Battalion Landing Team (MBLT) 10 will be pulled out from Marawi to undergo re-training in preparation for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit next month.
The MBLT 5 and MBLT 7 will remain to help the Army finish off the terrorists.
P15 B in standby fund
Meanwhile, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto is proposing to provide Malacañang P15 billion in standby fund for the reconstruction of Marawi.
The amount is on top of the P10 billion that is included in the proposed 2018 national budget for the rehabilitation of the war-torn city.
The P15 billion, Recto said, could be included in the unprogrammed appropriations portion of the proposed P3.76-trillion national budget.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier said that at least P50 billion would be needed to rebuild the city.