Federal Bureau of Investigation confirms Isnilon Hapilon is dead

Isnilon Hapilon. – File

Isnilon Hapilon. – File

Colonel Romeo Brawner, deputy commander of Joint Task Group Ranao, said in a press conference on Sunday afternoon in Marawi that they were trying to persuade the remaining terrorists to surrender "as some already did".

Fighting broke out in Marawi on May 23, after a botched government raid that failed to capture Isnilon Hapilon.

The Maute also held hostages, some of them were forced to fight government troops. He and another Marawi siege leader, Omar Maute, were killed in a military operation last Monday.

Aside from the building occupied by the terrorists, the military is still clearing five buildings in a half a hectare area of the city from unexploded improvised explosive devices. The teams' reports will help form the overall plan to rebuild Marawi. "So there's just one building left for the government forces to clear", Brawner said.

Brawner said, however, the terrorists might no longer be holding any hostages. "There were some Maute who came out with the hostages", he added. "We are trying to talk to them (Maute) to surrender, we are trying to convince them to at least release the female [fighters] and child warriors inside, if any, because they will be treated humanely", Brawner said.

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"At this point, we don't know who is really the leader because after the deaths of Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute, it seems like they had a leadership vacuum", he said.

"Right now we can not still determine how numerous 30 are dead or how many are still living but definitely as of noon today there is still resistance coming from that one building", he said.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana announced the test results on Saturday, saying the US Federal Bureau of Investigation had confirmed the identity of Hapilon's remains.

"This will take one to two weeks".

"Our engineering brigade and the DPWH are now starting to clear roads and remove debris caused by the war", he said.

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Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella earlier also said military rule is needed to fully flush out remnants of the terrorist groups in Mindanao.

Each team was assigned to assess a number of barangays declared cleared by the AFP and which are referred to as Zones 0 to 12.

President Rodrigo Duterte visited Marawi and declared it "liberated from the terrorist influence" and that rehabilitation can now begin.

"Our men and women in uniform proved in the battle of Marawi that they deserve this salary hike". Lawmakers are now on a month-long break from work.

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