SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao: The chief of the Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) has confirmed that all seven Maute brothers were killed by government troops who battled members of the Maute Group from May to October this year in Marawi City.
The Islamic State-linked Maute group seized several areas in the Islamic city on May 23, prompting President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law in Mindanao.
Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, Jr., WestMinCom chief, announced the killing of the Maute brothers during a meeting of the regional peace and order council (RPOC) in Cotabato City.
Omar Maute and Isnilon Hapilon, top leaders of the Maute group, were killed in a military assault on October 16. Abdullah Maute was believed killed in September.
Galvez said although all the Maute brothers are dead, the military continues its manhunt for Abu Dar, a senior Maute leader who remains at large.
Dar belongs to a Maranao tribe just like the Maute brothers. He was a member of the central leadership of the Maute terror group.
The Maute patriarch, Cayamora, who was arrested in Davao City in June, died of an illness while in a police detention facility in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City. Cayamora’s first wife, Farhana, mother of the seven slain Maute brothers, was arrested by the police in Masiu town in Lanao del Sur in August. She is being detained on rebellion charges.
“Abu Dar can likely assume the leadership of the Maute terror group,” Galvez told members of the RPOC, headed by Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Gov. Mujiv Hataman.
Mayor Dimnatang Pansar of Butig, hometown of the Maute clan, corroborated the announcement of Galvez, saying he also received reports confirming that all seven Maute siblings who started the trouble in Marawi City are dead.
“Many of their leaders were killed during the conflict in Marawi City,” Pansar said.
Pansar, president of the League of Mayors in Lanao del Sur, said the bigger challenge now for the government is the rebuilding of Butig and Marawi City.
RPOC members have agreed to help the “good Mautes” who were forced to go underground rejoin society.
“We will not treat them as special people. We can only help them return to their communities but subject to coordination with the police and the military,” Hataman said.
ARMM Vice Governor Haroun Al-Rashid Lucman said many of the Mautes not connected to the terror group have been ostracized.
Hataman has called on all 39 municipal peace and order councils in Lanao del Sur to help the police and military prevent recruitment of Maranaos by local IS-inspired blocs.
“There must be strong semblance of government in the municipalities. War is destructive. We have to prevent conflicts within our level first before we let the military come in. Our presence in the municipalities will help a lot,” he said.