THE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will exert efforts to flush out the remaining members of the Islamic State (IS)-linked Maute terrorist group in Marawi City.
This is in response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s self-imposed 15-day deadline to end the conflict in Marawi where the Maute terrorists have a stockpile of firearms.
In a statement, Col. Edgard Arevalo, chief of the AFP public affairs, said the military would be doing its best to clear out the area of terrorists.
“The 15 days is a period within which the President hopes the crisis in Marawi to end. The AFP will do its best, as it has been giving its level best, to crush the rebellion of the Maute-ISIS Group,” he said, using another acronym for the IS.
Arevalo noted that Duterte, who is also the commander-in-chief of the military, was aware of the “complexities” of the AFP’s ongoing clearing operations.
“The commander-in-chief is aware of the complexities of the ongoing operations because he is being briefed regularly,” he said.
“Your government security forces’ resolute desire to accomplish the mission remain undiminished!”
Meanwhile, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald de la Rosa echoed Arevalo’s statement, saying that the President is being briefed by security officials “every now and then” about the situation in Marawi City.
“He (Duterte) is very much aware of the situation. He is being briefed every now and then about the situation and he came up with [the 15-day]assessment,” de la Rosa told reporters in a chance interview in Camp Crame.
De la Rosa said that the President’s 15-day deadline was a result of a “very good assessment,” especially coming from Duterte himself, adding that he also has the same evaluation.
De la Rosa also clarified his statement in a security briefing at the Senate where he suggested the extension of martial law in the whole island of Mindanao since the effectivity of Proclamation 216 would expire on July 23, a day before Duterte’s second state of the nation address (SONA).
“The Senate was asking us, particularly the PNP, how they can help through legislation, how they can help improving our capacity, the PNP’s capability enhancement, and the senators are asking how can they help because the problem of addressing terrorism in the whole world is being handled by the police,” he said.
For the PNP chief’s part, he said it would be “awkward” to have deals with counterpart countries, which may look at the PNP as “weak” for international communities.
“For example, our problem with hijacking and kidnapping along the high seas of the tri-boundaries of Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines. We have a deal to address in securing the sea lanes, high seas,” de la Rosa said, attributing it as a reason why the Senate expressed concern over security measures by police.