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Troops stumble on P79.2m in Marawi

GOVERNMENT troops seized nearly P80 million in cold cash and checks inside a house in strife-torn Marawi City, the military confirmed yesterday.

Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, Armed Forces spokesman, said members of Marine Corps units stumbled on the funds in a house near the Mapandi Bridge on Monday afternoon.

Padilla said the find consisted of P52.2 million in cash, and checks amounting to P27 million.

Allegedly, the house was used by the terrorist Maute group to position a machine gun.

“[The money and checks were] duly secured and turned over to [the] headquarters [of] Task Force Marawi for safekeeping,” Padilla said.

The military confirmed the find even as it claimed that slackening of fire is now being noted in the remaining Maute group positions in Marawi, adding that resistance among the remaining terrorists is now considerably less compared to the first few days of fighting.

The conflict in Marawi City started when government security troops tried to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, an ally of the terrorist band, in May 23.

“That (lessening of resistance and lower of volume of fire) means that they are low on supply, low on everything,” Padilla said.

Despite this observation, the AFP spokesperson declined to give estimate on the number of the remaining Maute group terrorists and the timeline on when the lawless group would be totally neutralized and Marawi cleared and ready again for civilian living.

“(It) depends on the ground commander, it’s not on us, we will wait for the ground commander’s assessment of the situation,” he said.

At presstime, Maute group losses are now at 120 members, government security forces at 38, civilians executed at 20,98 firearms recovered and 1,467 civilians rescued from the hands of the terrorists.

Meanwhile, the military said it would be tracing the source of the Maute group’s high-powered firearms and ammunition once Marawi City has been cleared of terrorists.

“On the firearms they are using against government security troops, it looks like they have stockpiled them for some time, and we have captured a lot of them in the past few days. We will know where they acquired them once our investigation starts,” Padilla said.

While he did not identify any possible supplier, Padilla said they are not discounting the possibility that the group’s weapons and ammunition were sourced from the black market or from rogue government security force personnel.

Padilla said some of the weapons could have even come from police and jail facilities that the terrorists attacked, looted and set afire after freeing the prisoners last week. (pna)

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