MANILA – Malacañang on Monday welcomed the killing of Omar Maute and Isnilon Hapilon, leaders of the terrorists who laid siege to Marawi City nearly five months ago.
Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the deaths of Maute and Hapilon should hasten the rebuilding of the strife-torn city.
“Bravo Zulu to the AFP. We look forward to raising Marawi from the ashes of conflict and building in a new era where people from the farthest reaches of this Republic can share in the boon of progress,” Andanar said in a statement.
“This clear victory against terrorism proves the Duterte administration’s resoluteness in delivering on its promise of peace and prosperity to the people of Mindanao,” he added.
Andanar said the killing of Maute and Hapilon shows President Rodrigo Duterte “demonstrates day in and day out that he will spare nothing, not even himself, for the good of our people.”
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Monday confirmed that Maute and Hapilon have indeed been killed, marking a major development in the nearly 5-month crisis that has gripped the predominantly Muslim city.
Lorenzana said the location of Hapilon and Maute, who were holed up in a building in Marawi City, was divulged by a female hostage who managed to escape.
"They were able to get a testimony from a hostage who was able to escape. She was able to confirm the presence of Isnilon and Maute in that particular building. That's the building that we assaulted this morning. They are confirmed dead," Lorenzana said in a press conference.
Lorenzana said the death of the two terrorists indicates that the Marawi conflict is nearing its end. He, however, said operations will continue to arrest other Maute members and Malaysian professor-turned-militant, Dr. Mahmud Ahmad, who is believed to be holed up in one of the buildings in the city.
Since clashes between state forces and the Maute group erupted, the military says around 753 terrorists have been killed. At least 47 civilians and 155 soldiers have also died in the conflict. Nearly 400,000 have been forced to evacuate.