At least P1 billion needed to continue fighting in Marawi, negotiations junked:
The Armed Forces of the Philippines is asking at least P1 billion to replenish its supplies in order to continue fighting Islamic State-inspired militants in Marawi City, a military spokesman said on Friday.
In the "Mindanao Hour" press briefing in Malacanang, Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr. said the military was initially asking for P1 billion to buy additional weapons and ammunition for soldiers on the ground.
"The immediate requirements will be to replenish what we have spent," he said, noting that they have to ask immediately for additional fund because procurement usually takes time.
Padilla added that the military would not allow negotiations with terrorists.
Former Marawi City Mayor Omar Solitario Ali sent a text message to Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza offering his help for the release of the hostages in Marawi, news reports said.
Padilla said the government should not treat Solitario seriously because "he's been a long supporter of the bandits inside Marawi."
He said Solitario should be arrested as he accused the former local official of instigating what has been happening in the city.
Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno earlier this week said the military has been asking for replenishment because the budget for the year has been already used up because of the ongoing operations against the terrorists in Marawi.
Since May 23, the government troops have been pursuing the militants who have occupied Marawi, prompting President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has said the AFP has already spent P3 billion in its operation in Marawi.
Quoting AFP chief of staff General Eduardo Ano, he said, "we stand by the policy of no negotiation with whatever terrorist groups there are, particularly in this case.
"So whatever this guy is saying is not true...the crisis there is almost finish. And we will neutralize all remaining armed members of this Maute group inside Marawi," he said, stressing that Solitario just wanted to "save his neck.
"And he’s looking for ways to provide himself the ability to escape liabilities for the crimes that he has committed. So he’s trying to play it up. How could he say that the Maute-ISIS group is not the problem? That would be an insult to the Armed Forces and our heroes. There are 145 lives who have been sacrificed, who have given their all. And a lot of our wounded who are… remain in the hospital," Padilla exclaimed.
He said the government should hold Solitario accountable for the lives of the civilians who have been lost in Marawi.
"So let us not allow ourselves to be duped. Give your Armed Forces and your police the chance to finish the problem there because this is like a cancer cell," he said. Celerina Monte/DMS