MARAWI CITY (MindaNews / 6 July) – Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Thursday said the government underestimated the strength of the Maute Group.
In a press briefing here, Lorenzana said he thought government forces would resolve the conflict in three days.
The siege by the ISIS-inspired Maute Group of the country’s lone Islamic city entered its 45th day on Thursday.
Lorenzana said they initially placed the militants’ number at around 200. He said the estimate increased to between 400 and 500, and later to 700.
“That’s why they’re still there. Nag-iimbak sila ng bala, baril (They’re amassing ammunition, guns),” he said.
The secretary said government fatalities had reached at least 90 and the wounded over 400.
Military figures placed casualties from the Maute Group at close to 300. Meanwhile, civilian deaths had reached around 30.
Since May 25, the military has launched artillery bombardment, aerial bombing and ground assault against the armed group in downtown Marawi.
In a press conference in Cagayan de Oro City on June 11, Armed Forces Chief-of-Staff Eduardo Ano said that the recovery of Marawi was “just a matter of time”.
“Konting pasensiya lang ito (This needs a little more patience),” Ano said in the same press conference.
Lorenzana, who was appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte to head the rehabilitation program, announced in the briefing that government was already preparing a rehabilitation plan for Marawi.
He said the rehabilitation plan includes the repair of infrastructure and homes of civilians.
“The President promised to help everybody,” he said. (H. Marcos C. Mordeno / MindaNews)