MOSCOW, Russia – The government is deploying more troops to Marawi City to keep the pressure on Maute Group members who continue to hold a hospital and other buildings under their control.
"We are bringing in more troops," Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told Rappler on Tuesday, May 23, in Moscow, Russia.
"GHQ (General Headquarters) is bringing in additional troops as we speak and also the Cdr (Commander), Wesmincom (Western Mindanao Command) from Zamboanga," he added.
The defense and military top brass are in Moscow for President Rodrigo Duterte's official visit here.
"The order is to pursue, keep pressing, and keep in mind the safety of civilians also," said National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr in a chance interview on Tuesday.
The military has increased its deployment of troops to various areas where they are engaging Maute Group members, he added. (READ: Cop killed, 5 injured in Marawi terror attack)
Armed Forces chief of staff General Eduardo Año has given assurances that the military "are in full control of the situation," said Esperon. (READ: 3 fires break out in Marawi as clashes rage)
The rest of Duterte's Russia trip is pushing through, despite the situation in Marawi City.
"We will discuss that but it's still pushing through," said Esperon.
The President is also "keenly following" developments in Marawi City from Moscow, said Lorenzana. (READ: Maute Group waves ISIS black flag on Marawi streets)
Duterte has no official activities on Tuesday. It is supposed to be his rest day for him to recuperate from the long flight to Moscow. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.