MANILA — Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Monday confirmed the death of top terrorist leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute in Marawi City.
“Yes, I confirm the killing of (Isnilon) Hapilon at saka Omar Maute this morning, early this morning,” Lorenzana said in a press conference in Camp Aguinaldo.
“They were both killed, in fact their faces have already been splashed in the internet and in the websites,” the defense chief added.
Lorenzana said the bodies of the two terrorist leaders would be subject to DNA test, noting that these two have bounties on their heads from foreign countries.
He also said government troops are now chasing a foreign terrorist who is fighting on the side of the Maute group in the city.
“There is still another personality that they are trying to get, sic, the (Malaysian), according to some reports he is still hiding in some of, one of the buildings there and that’s what they are trying to do now,” Lorenzana said.
Lorenzana also confirmed the report from the Task Force Ranao saying government troops rescued 17 hostages in Marawi City on Sunday night.
“So may na-rescue tayo na 17 hostages last night. Halo halo ito, may lalaki, babae, mga bata. Wala pa ko breakdown kung ilan ang lalaki at babae. dinala sa safe zone and undergoing medical examination. (So we have rescued 17 hostages last night. These are a mix of men, women and children. I still don’t have the breakdown. They were brought to a safe zone and are now undergoing medical examination.) They will also undergo debriefing,” Col. Romeo Brawner Jr., deputy commander of Task Force Ranao said.
Brawner added that there are also more than 20 soldiers wounded in the ongoing battle, adding that the main battle area between government troops and Maute terrorist shrunk to two hectares.
As of Monday, the number of slain Maute terrorists are placed at 822 along with 162 troops killed-in-action.
Lorenzana said they will announce the termination of hostilities once government forces have ensured that there are no more terrorists-stragglers in the city and have cleared all structures of IEDs and other traps.
“After the fighting stops, we will refocus our efforts on the challenging task of rebuilding and rehabilitating Marawi,” the Defense Secretary noted.
Meanwhile, Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte hailed the Armed Forces of the Philippines for the death of Hapilon and Maute.
In his Instagram post, VM Duterte thanked the AFP especially those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, to protect the Filipino people from terrorists like the Maute Group.
“I have nothing but my deep respect for you and and your families’ sacrifices for the Filipino people,” the young Duterte said.