- AFP chief of staff said P1 billion looted by militant group still inside Marawi
- He said slain leaders offered millions for escape, ordered hostages to build boats
- He also reported deaths of 20 other militants who tried to escape via Lake Lanao
MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines said the P1 billion looted by the Maute group is still believed to be somewhere inside Marawi City after being split and hidden by the militants.
“As days passed, they each took their own share and hid the money so that when they can escape, they can come back for it,” Rappler quoted chief of staff Gen. Eduardo Año as saying. “I believe the money is still inside the main battle area.”
According to Año, both Omar Maute and Isnilon Hapilon offered a portion of the loot to anyone who could aid in their escape from the combat zone.
“We received such information that they were offering millions for anyone who can lead and can provide them with banca [boat] and guide them out of the main battle area,” he said.
As the situation turned more desperate, the slain leaders had their hostages build boats which could have helped them traverse Lake Lanao.
“They were attempting to go out to the street to escape. In fact, there were four boats ready on the lake. They had it built by the hostages so they really planned to get out,” he said.
Aside from Maute and Hapilon, Año said 20 other militants were neutralized by the Navy Special Operations Group (NavSOG) as they attempted to escape via Lake Lanao.
“All who attempted to escape the lake we have neutralized,” he said.
Aside from the two, one other ringleader – Abdullah Maute– was earlier reported to have been killed in an airstrike last August.