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Duterte: Maute Group founded by ex-cops dealing in illegal drugs

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Duterte: Maute Group founded by ex-cops dealing in illegal drugs

Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte makes a speech on arriving from his visit to Russia at NAIA Terminal 2 on May 24, 2017. (Photo by RICHARD A. REYES / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

ILIGAN CITY — President Rodrigo Duterte revealed on Friday that the Maute Group fighting government troops in Marawi City was founded by two brothers (Abdullah and Omar Maute) who were former police officers involved in illegal drugs.

“They were policemen in Manila who got enamored with the money of shabu,” he said. “Umuwi dito (They returned here) and established one of the biggest factories of shabu in Lanao del Sur,” Duterte said in a speech before soldiers at the multi-purpose hall of the Army’s 2nd Mechanized Infantry Brigade.

He said money from the drugs trade was used “to fuel the movement.”

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Awash with cash, the brothers were able to recruit followers, and according to the President, got hold of locally-sourced weapons, turning the former drug gang into the government’s “formidable enemy.”

Through the Maute Group, Duterte said the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS), the international terror group which has waged a brutal war in the Middle East, was able to enter the country.

“You can say that ISIS is here already,” he said, pointing out that the group had been using the black flag of ISIS.

Some of the members, however, might have just went along for other reasons; Maybe they were disgruntled followers of some politicians or they might be angry with the government.

He said the Maute Group even “imported” Isnilon Hapilon, a sub-leader of the bandit group Abu Sayyaf, whom the ISIS had anointed as its “emir” or leader in the Philippines.

“So that’s our problem,” Duterte told the soldiers.“ And you’re going to fight. You have to fight every day until this conflict is resolved. I could only pray for you.”

“I will pray for you and I will answer for everything,” he added, even expressing his willingness to join them into battle “if only I could.”

“Huwag kayong mag-alala. You can arrest any person. Search any house. Kagaya noon,” Duterte said.

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The President also told troops not to worry about possible consequences and ramifications in the implementation of martial rule.

“I and I alone would be responsible,” the President said. “I’m a leader. I’m supposed to lead the way. If you go down, I go down.”

He also pledged to put all the necessary military assets at the troops’ disposal.

“I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel to look for money to see you through,” he said. “I’ll give you all you need. Just wait for the new firearms.”

In the meantime, he said: “We have the weapons and the equipment and we have the air assets to help you.”

Duterte also emphasized the need to minimize collateral damage.

“Because if people are against us, medyo mahirapan tayo (we might face some difficulty),” he said. “If we can only inflict damage on those who want to fight and contain the fire fights between combatants, that would be the best solution.”

While ordering a no-mercy stance against those who resist, the President said he was still open for talks with the enemy, particularly those who were not hardcore.

“But if they want to talk I would be most grateful to Allah,” he said. “Mag-usap tayo ng kapayapaan (Let’s talk peace).”

On the other hand, he said: “All-out terrorists who can’t be convinced to stop fighting, so be it. Let’s go to war. My order to the troops is whoever has firearm and put up a fight, kill him. Finish them off because it would be the same. He will come back to fight another day.”

“Let us concentrate on this problem,” he addded. /atm

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TAGS: 2nd Mechanized Infantry Brigade, Marawi siege, Mindanao martial law, Rodrigo Duterte
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