High military officers do not clearly see the possibility of having the Islamic City of Marawi liberated completely by July 24, when President Rodrigo Duterte ascends the podium at the House of Representatives to deliver his second State of the Nation Address (SONA).
By latest reckoning, about 600 houses and establishments remain to be cleared of any terrorist presence as security forces fight tooth and nail to retake Marawi from the radical militant elements of the terrorist Maute Group, which is known to have professed allegiance to the jihadist group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also called ISIS).
The best efforts of the military and police so far translate to 40 to 50 houses cleared each day.
Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, Spokesperson of he Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), acknowledged that the 10 to 15 days estimate of President Duterte for the timeline of clearing Marawi is just about right: “Yeah, so we are right into the 10 to 15 days of the President. But the 10 to 15 days is beyond the SONA, by the way, so don’t expect liberation to be before the SONA.”
As to whether or not the military would be asking for an extension of the martial law declaration, Padilla said that matter would be up to the assessment of the ground commanders.
A preliminary recommendation may already be in the works and ready for the eyes of President Duterte by weekend, in time for him and legislators to have something to chew on when they are expected to gather in a meeting Monday next week.
“We hope to complete the recommendation before the initial 60-day period of martial law comes around,” said Padilla.
Congress is scheduled to convene on July 24, and Minority Floor Leader Franklin Drilon said it would be efficacious if President Duterte can submit by July 22 the recommendation of whether or not to extend martial law.
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