Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Wednesday said commanders of government troops in Marawi City have promised to defeat the Islamic State-inspired Maute terrorists by the end of the month.
“Ang sabi naman ng ating commanders sa ground is tapusin nila iyan bago matapos ang buwan. They have three days to do the job so I'm holding them responsible for fulfilling their promise," Lorenzana told reporters.
"I'm very confident on the abilities of our soldiers to do their job kaya lang were still incurring some casualties. Yesterday we lost one soldier and 15 wounded. Ganun katindi ang kalaban natin naiipit na sila nakakapatay pa rin," he added.
Lorenzana said only 10 hostages remain, based on the information from recently freed Fr. Chito Soganub, but held out the possibility there could be more elsewhere.
“Ten 'yun 'yung kasama niya sa malaking building. Di niya alam saan ang iba dahil di niya nakikita. We’re pegging our number to 10 hostages remaining. We don't know if there are still other hostages in some other places,” he said.
The military previously said there are still around 45 to 50 hostages held by the Maute terrorists.
Lorenzana said the P5 billion budget for Task Force Bangon Marawi has already been allocated, with only P122 million left unallocated.
However, the funds have yet to be spent.
Meanwhile, extending martial law in Mindanao past the end of the year remains an option for President Duterte, according to Lorenzana.
“I was asked the question also yesterday, I said maybe I will consider the recommendation of the people in Marawi and in Lanao, which is if they want martial law to continue while we are rehabilitating their area," he said.
"Kung sabihin nila pwede na yung area namin kahit walang martial law, we will also consider that. But the final determination whether to continue martial law or not rests with the President. Decision niya yun," he added.