MANILA, Philippines – The US hailed the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Tuesday, October 17, for killing Marawi siege leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute, as the American government said it supported the Philippines fight against terrorism.
"We congratulate our partners in the Armed Forces of the Philippines for their reported success in killing two of the leaders behind the months-long clash in Marawi: Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute," US embassy spokesperson Molly Koscina said in a statement.
"The US is proud to support the AFP's counterterrorism efforts in Mindanao through intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities, and other technical assistance," Koscina added.
Hapilon and Maute died in clashes with government troops past midnight on Monday, October 16, after the Marawi crisis raged for nearly 5 months.
The terrorists' deaths led Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to declare on Tuesday, October 17, that Marawi City is now "liberated" from terrorist influence.
Since the Marawi Crisis began on May 23, the US has been one of the Philippines' biggest donors, having extended at least P730 million ($14.21 million) in foreign assistance as of September 15.
Recently, Philippine and US troops also simulated a hijacking and hostage-taking incidents in a counterterrorism drill called Tempest Wind.
"The US-Philippine alliance is built on a 70-year history. We will continue working with our Filipino friends, partners and allies to eradicate violent extremism and terrorism," Koscina said. – Rappler.com
*$1 = P51.29
Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org