Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana confirmed Monday the deaths of Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon and Maute group leader Omar Maute.
"I confirm the killing of Isnilon Hapilon at saka Omar Maute early this morning," Lorenzana said in a press briefing.
He said the bodies will be subjected to DNA test.
"Yes they will be subjected to DNA test because there are rewards coming from (a) foreign country and also from us. I think Maute has a P5 million reward on his head, Isnilon has a $5 million reward on his head plus another P10 million yata from the government, so it’s a huge money," he said.
Lorenzana said they were supposed to go to Marawi on Monday but they were dissuaded by ground commanders as they were about to conduct operations against the two terrorist leaders.
"So following their operational plan, they were able to do it this morning. They were able to get Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute. They were both killed," he said.
He added government troops were able to rescue 17 hostages.
Lorenzana said the operation was based on the testimony of a female hostage who was able to escape.
"She was able to confirm the presence of Isnilon and Maute in that particular building, so that’s the building that we assaulted early this morning," he said.
The Defense chief said government troops are still running after alleged Maute financier Dr. Mahmoud Ahmad.
"According to some reports, he is still hiding in one of the buildings there and that’s what they are trying to do now," he said.
He said the killing of the Maute leaders means the ending of hostilities soon but not the lifting of martial law in Mindanao.
"Ang implication nito ay malapit nang matapos yung Marawi incident natin and we may announce the termination of hostilities in a couple of days," he said.
"We are not talking about lifting martial law yet, tingnan pa natin. We are only looking in the immediate aftermath of the killing of these two leaders," he added.
Lorenzana said they need to assess the situation in Mindanao first before recommending to the President the lifting of martial law.
"We may be announcing the cessation of hostilities within this week and then after that we will find out, we will assess what the entire Mindanao if there is a need to recommend to the President the lifting of martial law," he said.
He expressed hope the deaths of the two leaders will help finish ISIS in Southeast Asia.
"That will help eradicate them once and for all. Meron pa silang mga cells diyan, we believe that they still have cells in Basilan, Sulu, also in Central Mindanao but we will also get them," he said.
He said there were other Maute members killed aside from Hapilon and Maute during the operations but no details were provided yet.
"Meron(g ibang namatay) pero hindi na nila sinabi kung sino sino at saka number, they just concentrated on these two high value targets," he said.
Lorenzana further said the troops are ready if ever the other members of Maute group stage retaliatory attacks.
"We are prepared, our troops are prepared. Alam naman natin that it is the modus operandi of the enemy to make, to create diversion dito, diversion diyan, retaliation din, so our troops are prepared," he said. — KG/RSJ, GMA News