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Marawi conflict may end by September 30, Lorenzana says

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Wednesday said the ongoing conflict in Marawi City may possibly end by September 30.

Lorenzana made the pronouncement, citing information from ground commanders in the area, in an ambush interview at the House of Representatives.

"Ang sabi naman ng ating mga commander sa ground ay tatapusin na yan bago matapos ang buwan, so they have three days to do the job. So I am holding them responsible for fulfilling their promise," he told reporters.

President Rodrigo Duterte on May 23 placed the entire island of Mindanao under martial law after the ISIS-inspired Maute Group attacked Marawi City.

Originally ending after 60 days, Congress, in a joint session, extended the proclamation placing Mindanao under martial law until December 31 this year.

In the interview, Lorenzana said the area where the terrorist group still holds has gradually decreased.

"Wala kaming exact na number pero ang sabi nila ay nasa less than 100 [terrorists na lang] so it could range from 10 to 99. Yung area nila ay lumiliit na, about a week ago mga 10 hectares na lang, baka ngayon mga couple of hectares na lang yan e," he said,

The defense secretary also expressed confidence that government troops will be able to put a stop in the crisis before the month ends.

"I'm very confident. I'm very confident with the abilities of our soldiers to do their job," Lorenzana said.

"Kaya lang, we are still incurring some casualties. Yesterday we lost one soldier and 15 wounded. Ganun katindi ang [tropa] natin, naiipit na sila, nakakapatay pa rin," he added.


In the same interview, Lorenzana said rehabilitation efforts in Marawi City can start "any time now."

"If you've been watching TV yesterday, the equipment of the DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways) and the engineers are already on the ground, tinatanggal na nila yung mga debris sa kalsada. So the clearing already starts," he said.

"The next step will be the PCNA, the post-conflict needs assessment so that we will find kung yun bang bahay na yan ay irerepair o idedemolish na, mag-start sa October 1. It will take them one or two weeks. After that, we will have a good idea of how much we need to rehabilitate Marawi and how long," he added. — RSJ, GMA News