By Francis T. Wakefield
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Eduardo Año expressed optimism that they could finish off the Marawi crisis before the end of October.
In an interview, Año said they have a timeline on when they can finish the conflict but he rather would not announce it.
“Latest instruction (to military commanders)? It is to finish the Marawi crisis,” Año said. “We will finish the Marawi within this month,” he added.
But while he said earlier that he was confident that they could finish off the Maute Group before his retirement from the military service on October 26, Año said he does not want to anchor his latest pronouncement on that.
“It (ending the crisis) should not be dependent or anchored on my retirement. We will finish it because that is the time to finish it; and that is calculated based on our projection of being able to rescue the remaining hostages, neutralizing the last terrorist and minimizing casulaties to our troops and civilians,” he added.
P15-B standby fund
Meanwhile, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto has called on lawmakers to provide Malacañang a standby fund of P15 billion which it can use for the rehabilitation of war-torn Marawi City.
This would be on top of the P10-billion that is already in the P3.767-trilion national budget bill. He said the additional P15 billion can be included in the unprogrammed appropriations portion of the budget bill.
Recto said parking the P15 billion in the unprogrammed appropriations would cancel the need for Congress to pass a supplemental budget in the event that the P10 billion is not enough, or has been fully spent before the end of next year. (With a report from Hannah L. Torregoza)