They don’t just go through walls opened up from house to house in the battle of Marawi, but the terrorist Maute fighters even play possum slithering through the drainage system underneath the streets in the fight for survival.
From the nearby municipality of Marantao, the terrorists are suspected to take advantage of concealment provided by floating clumps of water hyacinth on Lake Lanao to infiltrate into the Islamic City of Marawi to reinforce their comrades.
Those inside the city are apparently able to make use of the underground drainage system to move from one part of Ground Zero to another, or, not so far-fetched, to slip away in their escape making like possums underneath the surface.
According to Salim Limpao of the Marantao Legal Office, there is no other route except via his municipality, which is just one kilometer from the center of Marawi and is situated between the battle zone and the terrorists’ other strongholds.
Security forces have taken to closely guarding the network of drainage ditches to prevent the enemy from taking advantage of the opportunity to slip past stakeouts above the ground. Some of the drainage canals are under concrete houses and hard to make out.
There is another drainage canal leading off from Bangolo Bridge to Batoh Mosque and a branch office of the Landbank of the Philippines.
According to Engineer Serad Laut, it’s possible for them to emerge through manholes and slip into nearby houses along Quezon Avenue.
While the mosque appears to be of strategic significance for the terrorists, the military tactfully prefers to leave it untouched out of respect for the sensibilities of the local population and the Islam faith.
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