MANILA (UPDATE) - The military said Monday it was verifying reports Isnilon Hapilon, an Abu Sayyaf leader allegedly operating with Islamic State-inspired extremists, has escaped from Marawi City as early as last week.
Authorities received information on Hapilon’s escape from intelligence sources, civilians on the ground, and intercepted communications of militants holed out in the southern city, where fighting has raged for a month.
"We were told by those rescued that Isnilon Hapilon has abandoned his companions from the location. This is subject to a validation process, but we have received that information," military spokesman Colonel Edgard Arevalo told reporters.
"Hindi pa natin na-validate na nakaalis na siya, but what we can assure you is that if he was indeed able to spirit himself out of Marawi, we are running after him and we will run after him," he added.
(We have not yet validated the information that he has left, but what we can assure you is that if he was indeed able to spirit himself out of Marawi, we are running after him and we will run after him.)
The US is offering $5 million for the capture of Hapilon, whom it labeled as a “most wanted terrorist.” -- from a report by Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News