The military is not discounting the possibility that reports on Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon’s escape from Marawi City may be false.
Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr. on Wednesday (June 28) said they have yet to confirm that Hapilon has fled the conflict zone.
“Dahil nga wala kaming patibay at alam namin na ginagawa namin ang aming makakaya para mabantayan lahat ng lagusan, eh hindi muna namin pinaniniwalaan hangga’t walang patibay,” he said at the “Mindanao Hour” press briefing in Malacanang.
“So maaari rin disimpormasyon ito para ma-distract ang ating tropa sa paghahanap sa kanya,” Padilla added.
Hapilon, considered a top leader of the Maute group and reportedly ISIS’ anointed emir in Southeast Asia, has a $5 million bounty on his head from the United States.
The Philippine government has also put a P10 million reward for his capture.
“So ‘yung perang ‘yan ay napakalaki at maaaring nararamdaman niya ang init ng maaaring gustong i-surrender siya sa mga awtoridad para maka-kolekta ng ganito kalaking halaga,” Padilla said of Hapilon.