MARAWI CITY - Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Assemblyman Zia Alonto Adiong couldn't help but feel sad upon seeing images of the destruction left in the city where he grew up.
Adiong, spokesman for the provincial crisis management committee, said the degree of damage after 2 weeks of fighting between the military and terrorists is something he did not expect.
"I was raised here all my life and looking at pictures, there was no semblance of Marawi anymore. It's like looking at Syria and Allepo. The damage on properties is staggering. It's quite unbelievable," he said Tuesday.
The crisis in Marawi has already forced over 100,000 residents in the once peaceful city to leave their homes and businesses, for fear of getting caught in the crossfire.
Rescuers are still trying to rescue civilians trapped in Marawi's conflict zones. Initial images from the ground show not only bullet-riddled houses, but also structures completely destroyed.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) admitted the offensives may take longer as Maute terrorists continue to delay their operations.
"Wala po tayong assurance that in 3 days matatapos natin because of several factors in terms of execution," said Lt. Col. Joar Herrera, spokesman of the Army's 1ID.
Herrera explained that their priority is to ensure the safety of the civilians still trapped in Marawi as terrorist snipers are still hiding in some areas.
Adiong said they are now anticipating the Maute group to split up and avoid detection as the military presses in. Sympathizers might also create diversionary tactics to loosen military grip in downtown Marawi.
The Lanao del Sur official said he will be calling leaders of barangays in Marawi to plan a strategy as a proactive measure.
Asked about the large amount of money recovered by the Philippine Marines earlier today, Adiong said it is not surprising, given the nature of Islamic Laws.
"General practice is they keep their money in their houses. They have low trust in banking and excessive interest is not allowed in Islam. Local businessmen tend to keep their money in houses," he said.
"We only have 3 commercial banks. This is an indication that in general they don't go to bank and deposit money. Sharia law prohibits us to deposit our money in exchange for excessive interest," he added.