THE government will file charges against any person or group who extended support to the Maute terrorists in Marawi City, a military official said Friday.
Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla said the military is gathering evidence against these groups and individuals.
“There have been those who have been partial to the rebels. As soon as we gather evidence that are good enough, we will initiate legal action to make them answerable for their crimes,” Padilla said in a news conference.
“The state has the right to defend itself, and we are in pursuit of restoration of rule of law and law and order in the area,” he added.
The military official said the Maute Group that has been battling government troops since May is still holding 40 hostages. He said the information came from 17 hostages rescued by the military last week.
“Based on the debriefing that was conducted on the rescued hostages, they have passed the information to us that there are still 40 hostages in the area, along with 40 to 50 armed members of the [Maute] terrorist group,” Padilla said.
“This [information]becomes a very important factor in planning our final push [of military operations]in areas held by the terrors group. This is the reason why we are not saying a timeline on when our operations should end because there are still hostages [to be rescued],” he added.
But Padilla is confident that the clashes will be over “soon.”
“We expect that this [Marawi conflict] won’t last long, that it won’t be around once we host the Asean meeting in November. We will finish the mission as soon as possible, rid the area of all armed groups and rescue the hostages,” he told reporters.
Padilla was referring to Manila’s hosting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit Leaders Meeting next month.