MANILA — Government forces recovered illegal drugs as well as cache of high-powered firearms over the weekend in Marawi City as they prepare to embark on other key tasks such as rehabilitation and reconstruction of Marawi City.
During the regular Mindanao Hour press briefing in Malacañang, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said 11 kilos of suspected metamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu were recovered by troops after a brief firefight with Maute militants at 6 p.m. on Sunday.
The confiscation of the illegal substance is one of the significant developments by the Joint Task Force Marawi in the ongoing clearing operations in the besieged city.
Armed Forces of the Philippines Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr., who joined Abella at the press briefing, said soldiers also seized more than 20 high-powered firearms last Saturday in Marawi City.
“So you may not be aware of the nature of the confiscated firearms. These are among the firearms that have been confiscated and they are not ordinary firearms at all but high-powered firearms that can fire from afar, hit targets and destroy them,” Padilla said.
“This is indicative of the length of planning that went to this operation of these rebels, when they were able to get this number of firearms and bring it to the area of operations over a period of time,” he added.
Other war materials such as improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and other explosives have also been confiscated.
According to Abella, the AFP is prepared to embark on other key tasks such as rehabilitation and reconstruction of Marawi City once it is cleared of the terrorists.
“It has already prepared the Combat Engineering Brigades [from] the Army and the Navy for immediate deployment as soon as the clearing operations are [completed],” he said of AFP’s preparations.
In the meantime, however, he said the focus remains on combat, intelligence, and civil military operations.
The government troops have so far rescued 1,637 civilians, recovered 250 firearms and killed 257 terrorists, Abella reported adding that the Maute’s resistance “continues to wane”.
At least 62 soldiers have been killed while thousands of people have been displaced since the siege started last month.
In response to people expressing desire to help families of troops killed-in-action and internally displaced persons, the government set up two separate accounts in Landbank where concerned people could deposit money.
For families of slain soldiers, people can deposit money using the account name AFP Marawi Casualty with account number 00000552107128.
For evacuees from Marawi City, people can send money through account name Marawi IDP with account number 00000552107136.
Band together in fight vs terrorism.
Meanwhile, Padilla reiterated his call to the public to support the government in fighting terrorism describing the enemy as “a different breed.”
He said the presence of foreign fighters in Mindanao is part of a continuing concern because they bring something different than from that of home-grown terrorists.
“But if we do not work as a nation and band together to fight it, the threat might increase,” he said.
He added that if Filipinos work together as one nation, it will be harder for the extremists to rule and the government could easily root them out. PND/PNA-northboundasia.com