MANILA - Authorities are validating the authenticity of the P52 million in cash recovered from a house that used to be a sniper position of Maute bandits in Marawi, the military said Wednesday.
"Kailangan po nating malaman kung ito ay tunay na pera or manufactured. Kung peke po ito, kailangan malaman natin. Pwede po kasing makopya iyan e. Kaya kailangang maging masuri tayo," Armed Forces spokesperson Brig Gen. Restituto Padilla said in a phone interview with radio DZMM.
(We need to validate if this is real or manufactured money. These may have been copied from legitimate banknotes so we need to critical about this.)
The P52 million worth of cash was found in plastic bundles and paper envelopes in a house in Barangay Pandi during the clearing operations of the Philippine Marines o Monday.
Also found in the same house were several checks worth P27 million.
Padilla said markings on the cash indicate that the amount was withdrawn from several banks between 2014 and 2016.
The Army has sought help from the country's central bank to confirm who owns the money and if it is connected to terrorist operations.
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Deputy Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. meanwhile said bank experts can look at the markings in the banknotes to help trace the source of funds.
"I guess it all depends on the markings that are available. Maybe perhaps where it was sourced from it could be indicative," Espenilla said.
President Duterte earlier said that Maute terrorists are being funded by foreign terror groups and illegal drug money.
The fighting in Marawi has prompted Duterte to place the entire Mindanao island under martial rule.
A presidential spokesman said 120 militants have died in the battle, along with 38 government forces. The authorities have put the civilian death toll at between 20 and 38.