The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Thursday confirmed that its brand-new FA-50 “Fighting Eagle” jet fighters are now taking part again in the Battle for Marawi which is now on its closing phase.
In the same vein, AFP public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo said they are not discounting the possibility that allies and supporters of the beleaguered Maute Group, now pocketed in a less than a square kilometer area in the locality’s commercial district, may conduct retaliatory attacks in key areas in Mindanao and other parts of the country.
The FA-50s were grounded after one of its bombs landed 250 meters short of its intended Maute Group targets last July 12.
The ensuing blast rocked a nearby building housing friendly troops, tearing large chunks of the structure and hurling it on the sheltering soldiers, killing two and wounding 11 others.
Arevalo said investigations revealed that there was nothing wrong with the aircraft, its pilots nor its weapon systems, allowing it to be put back in active service.
And while not giving exact details on the reasons for the mishap, the AFP public affairs office chief said techniques, tactics, procedures on the use of air strikes were adjusted anew to prevent another similar incident.
He added that the activation of the aircraft jet was only done “recently”.
As of this posting, number of Maute Group terrorists killed are placed at 513 along with 116 government troops, and 45 civilians executed.
Number of recovered weapons were placed at 596 and rescued civilians at 1,724.
Fighting in the area has been raging since May 23 when government forces made a botched attempt to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader and ISIS “emir” Isnilon Hapilon.