Philippine security forces should waste no time in stamping out the threat of terrorism in Mindanao, starting with Marawi and then taking on terrorists in Basilan, the ARMM governor said Tuesday.
Governor Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Governor said government efforts must continue while the morale of terrorists is at its lowest point with the death of its leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute.
“May panahon kasi nung namatay ang lider nila nag-lull ang ating kampanya. Dapat the more na ituloy-tuloy natin habang nag-weaken ang leadership nila,” Hataman said in an interview on DZMM Tuesday.
“Wag maging kampante. Mamaya gumawa na naman ng gimmick para mapansin lang at sabihin, 'Ay buhay pa kami, kaya pa naming gumagawa ng ganito.'"
He said that after Marawi, government forces should also concentrate on areas where members of the Abu Sayyaf group still operate.
“Next natin dito yung natitira sa Basilan, sa Sulu kasi kailan lang alam ko may na-kidnap na naman sa Sulu na mangingisda. Ibig sabihin nito meron pang pagala-gala,” he said.
Isnilon Hapilon, Islamic State's anointed "emir" in Southeast Asia, and Omarkhayam Maute, one of two Middle East-educated brothers at the helm of the militant alliance, were killed in a raid on a building in Marawi and their bodies recovered on Monday, Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said.
Hataman said the killing of the two leaders means that the military is slowly closing in on the remaining terrorists holed up in Marawi.
“Sa liit ng lugar, halos wasak na mga buildings at talagang napalibutan, tingin ko wala na rin silang magawa at malaking opportunity rin yan sa ating security forces para tapusin at ma-neutralize na lahat para hndi na makagawa ng future activities nila,” he said.
On Tuesday, President Rodrigo Duterte declared Marawi liberated from terrorists after more than four months of fighting.