MANILA - The mayor of the devastated city of Marawi said Sunday he supports the national government's call to the remaining members of the Maute group to surrender, but insists that the leaders of the group also be brought to justice.
Marawi City Mayor Majul Usman Gandamra confirmed that many members of the Maute group have signified their intention to surrender following President Rodrigo Duterte's call on them to come out and hold talks with the Philippine government.
Gandamra however also said that those who took part in planning the Marawi siege need to be held accountable.
"Especially dun sa mga heads and brains, organizers, planners ay hindi natin dapat ito pabayaan na 'di mabigyan ng karampatang justice," Gandamra said in an interview with DZMM Teleradyo.
(Especially the heads, brains, organizers, planners, we should not let them escape justice.)
"Yung mga less guilty, nasa baba, we have them to entice to return to fold of law," he added.
As Marawi gets ready to mark the first anniversary of the start of the siege which reduced a great part of the city to ruins, Gandamra also confirmed reports that the ISIS-inspired group has been recruiting again.
Meanwhile, he also belied reports that residents of "ground zero" will be transferred to other areas.
He explained that the government's rehabilitation and reconstruction plan for Marawi would follow stages.
The first part of the rehab would remove the debris from ground zero during the first six months. This would be followed by the rebuilding of 'horizontal structures' like roads and bridges which would take around 18 months. Only after this would the construction of buildings begin, he said.
"Wala pong maaagawan ng lupa," he said.
(No one will lose their property.)
The Marawi mayor estimated that around 14,000 homes were destroyed during the siege, with 26,000 households still displaced.
He said the reconstruction of Marawi would begin next month.