Maute sister, 2 others arrested
THE Coast Guard said it arrested a sister of the Maute brothers on board a ship Sunday near the port of Iloilo.
In an interview with radio dzBB, Capt. Leopoldo Panopio of the Philippine Coast Guard in Northern Mindanao said the Maute sister, carrying fake ID, was arrested with two others on board the m/v St. Therese of the Child Jesus.
Coast Guard personnel had earlier spotted the Maute sister at the port of Cagayan de Oro City on Saturday night, Panopio said.
After confirming the Maute sister’s identity, he and his men rushed to Iloilo province to intercept the vessel.
Panopio said the woman confirmed she was the wanted Maute sister. One of her companions, dzBB reported, had a leg amputated.
Authorities had earlier arrested the parents of the Maute group leaders Omarkhayam and Abdullah.
On Thursday, security forces also arrested bomb maker Mohammad Noaim Maute alias Abu Jadid in Cagayan de Oro City.
The military said Abu Jadid had joined the Maute group in the Marawi City attack, but slipped out of the city by disguising as a fleeing resident.
Brothers Omarkhayam and Abdullah are the leaders of the Islamic State-inspired Maute group, which originated from Lanao del Sur.
On Saturday, President Rodrigo Duterte denied that the crisis in Marawi City was a result of the failure of intelligence, as clashes between government forces and the Maute terror group continued into the fourth week.
In his visit to the 401st Infantry Brigade in Butuan City, Duterte said groups like the Maute had taken advantage of the government’s “very soft policy towards rebels.”
Duterte said the government was aware that firearms were being stockpiled in Mindanao but took it for granted because of the peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Moro National Liberation Front.
“We have adopted a very soft policy towards the rebels and this came about because they were bringing firearms. Since we are thinking of getting peace with the MNLF and MILF. The game there involves firearms. We took it for granted. We just allowed it to happen because we never knew until that time who was really the enemy,” Duterte told the troops in Butuan City.
“When they see firearms and they were told that it’s for MILF or MNLF, the standing order was maybe we can talk to our brothers so there will be no trouble [but] it turned out that the Maute were bringing the firearms surreptitiously and we did not know how much ammunition and firearms were stockpiled,” Duterte said.
Appearing in public for the first time in nearly a week, Duterte said the terrorists seem to have an “endless supply” of firearms and ammunition because of the assistance of corrupt local warlords.
“But all the while, the Maute was conniving with politicians there, the warlords, and were stockpiling. That’s why they do not run out of M203 bullets,” he said, noting many soldiers were hit by that type of bullet.
Duterte also confirmed extremists from Indonesia, Syria, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Kuwait joined the Maute terrorists in the clashes with government troops.
The military on Sunday said it expected the IS-inspired Maute group to conduct more attacks, although on a smaller scale than Marawi.
Armed Forces spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla told radio dzBB that eradicating the Maute group would take longer than expected because of the group’s recruitment style, which targets the youth in Mindanao.
Padilla also admitted that several terrorists might have escaped the conflict zone pretending to be evacuees.
He allayed fears, however, that the fighting would spill out from Marawi City.
“You should not be afraid because [to repeat what happened in Marawi is ] beyond their capabilities,” he said in Filipino.
Padilla also urged the public to do their part and help the military in ensuring the safety of their communities from terrorists. With PNA