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Victory at Last: AFP Retakes Marawi Stronghold

Gov't officials confirm the deaths of Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute, bringing the end of hostilities in sight.
IMAGE Philippine Information Agency
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After almost five months of intense battle between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and ISIS-inspired terrorist groups, parts of Marawi are now unrecognizable, as neutralized Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, and Maute Group leader Omar Maute used the city as their base to attack civilians and the military.

Pictures of the lifeless bodies of the terror leaders had been circulating on social media before Malacañang confirmed the authenticity of the photos on the afternoon of October 16. Officials confirmed the deaths of Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon and Maute Group leader Omar Maute. According to the Palace, they were killed during an operation to retake the remaining stronghold of the terrorist groups in Marawi.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana also said that, aside from retaking the stronghold and neutralizing the two terrorists leaders, the military also liberated 17 hostages held by the two terrorist groups. "Our troops have rescued 17 civilian hostages and mopping up operations are underway," Lorenzana said in a press conference earlier today.

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The hostages included a Catholic priest named Father Teresito Soganub and a college teacher named Lordvin Acopio. 

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella lauded the military for their successful operation, but declined to reveal more details about it. “Details of the operation will be released by the AFP as soon as permissible,” said Abella. “Once the fighting stops and the clearing operations end, we will put our efforts and energies on the challenging task of rebuilding and rehabilitating Marawi,” he continued.

Cost of War: P3 Billion and Counting

The war in Marawi has cost the Filipino people an estimated P3 billion as of August 2017. "Roughly, we've spent P2.5 billion to P3 billion," Lorenzana said in interview last August 10. This amount does not include the cost of looking after the evacuees and providing them food and shelter.

More than the cost of operations, the war also left hundreds of thousands of Filipinos homeless. It displaced 400,000 residents in Marawi and nearby towns. The military also suffers heavy casualties.

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Meanwhile, the government is also struggling to control the spread of illnesses in evacuation centers, where skin disease and gastroenteritis are common. Regional Civil Defense Director Liza Mazo said that relief efforts are being hampered by outbreaks of disease. “There are alarming cases of skin diseases and gastroenteritis. We want to control the outbreak, not just in the evacuation center but even the home-based refugees,” said Mazo.

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Mario Alvaro Limos
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