Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana revealed that the Armed Forces would wish between 15 and 20 days to clear the 1,500 homes and buildings that stay within the fingers of the Maute Group in Marawi City.
“The area of conflict is actually this central business district. According to the commander on the ground, General (Carlito) Galvez, yesterday, they still have to clear 1,500 houses and buildings. And at the rate of clearing of 70 to 100 houses per day, it will take them some time to clear the area,” stated Lorenzana in a briefing in Malacanang.
Lorenzana, nevertheless, refused to be dragged into saying a brand new deadline for the tip of the Marawi conflict after getting burned thrice in his predictions.
“The people on the ground, they do not want to give timeline now. But they are trying hard to finish it as soon as possible. Kasi ako nasunog na ako tatlong beses. I keep putting deadlines three times I was — nakuryente na ako kaya ayaw ko na ring magsabi,” he stated.
“If you put a timeline on this kind of problem, all the enemies has to do is to hold out for a couple of days, nasira na ‘yung timeline mo. Napahiya ka na naman,” he added.
But primarily based on the navy’s forecast, it was doable that President Rodrigo Duterte can be dealing with the individuals in his State of the Nation Address on July 24 whereas the bombings and firefights proceed in Marawi.
Lorenzana admitted that their aim was to end the conflict earlier than SONA as a result of it might make the President look unhealthy.
“It is my hope that wala ng bakbakan. Wala na sana. Kasi we’d like to also to ano para naman hindi mahirapan si Presidente sa SONA niya na nagsasalita siya doon sa Congress, eh meron pang bakbakan. Sana tapos na,” stated Lorenzana.
“That is one of the things that I have asked the commanders on the ground, that if they could terminate the conflict there before the President goes on his SONA,” he added.
Lorenzana stated that whereas the navy was keen as anyone to get the job completed, doing so was simpler stated than completed due to the navy’s lack of city conflict coaching and former makes an attempt to rush the mopping up operations have led to pointless casualties like troopers being shot within the again by the enemy who evaded the clearign operations.
“This kind of problem is very difficult. And since it is urban fighting, which a lot of our troops there are not prepared, medyo… They are learning as they go along on how to fight in this built-up area. Kaya ‘yun ang nakatagal talaga diyan sa problema. So we are not going to put any deadline,” he stated.