THE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will validate information that one of the two Maute brothers was killed by air strikes on Marawi City, military chief Gen. Eduardo Año said on Tuesday.
This came as police and the military nabbed the father of the Maute brothers, Cayamora, at a checkpoint in Davao City Tuesday morning.
Año said information on the incident where Omar Maute was reportedly killed circulated on May 28.
“The report is still not confirmed. It was in Marawi City,” he told reporters.
The AFP chief said there was a “big possibility” Omar is still alive.
In a radio interview, Año said the military still faced at least a hundred Maute members, mostly in the Bangolo area, citing a report from the ground commander.
Aside from the remaining Maute, Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon needs to be “neutralized” by government troops.
“We are seeing the loss of their (Maute) snipers, so our troops were able to hasten their moves and it may also lead to the surrender of some remaining Maute members,” Año said.
Omar, the brother of Abdullah Maute, was earlier reported killed in February 2016 during the military offensive against them and their cohorts in Butig, Lanao del Sur.
Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte offered a P20-million reward for any information that could lead to the capture of Abu Sayyaf leader Hapilon and the Maute brothers.
A P10-million bounty was placed on Hapilon’s head, and P5 million each on the Maute brothers.
Fighting in Marawi City started last May 22 when government troops tried to arrest Hapilon. The siege forced President Duterte to declare martial law in Mindanao on May 23.
The P10-million bounty on Hapilon is on top of the $5 million earlier offered by the US government for information on the Abu Sayyaf leader. He also has a standing P7.4-million bounty from the Philippine government.
Hapilon is wanted for kidnapping with ransom and serious illegal detention.
Maute father arrested
The elder Maute, Cayamora, and three of his family members were arrested by the combined Task Force Davao and police under Joint Task Force Haribon, after they were intercepted on board a black Toyota Grandia at the Sirawan checkpoint in Davao City Tuesday morning.
The arrest was confirmed by Brig. Gen. Gilbert Gapay, deputy commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command, in a news conference at the Davao City Police Office.
Cayamora was nabbed along with his second wife Kongan Alfonso-Maute, daughter Norjanna Balawag-Maute, son in law Bensarali Tingao, and van driver Aljon Salazar Esmael, who was released by authorities. Norjanna and Bensarali are husband and wife.
Authorities said Cayamora concealed his identity by shaving his beard and covering his body and face with malong.
Sirawan commander Lt. Col. Nelson Mundia said Cayamora’s companions introduced themselves as Bensarali and Norjannah Tingao. Cayamora presented several identification cards, further raising suspicion.
Mundia said they were told by the family that Cayamora would undergo medical treatment in Davao City. Cayamora was lying on the back seat when authorities conducted a search.
In an interview, the van driver Salazar said he was hired by Bensarali to drive to Tagum in Davao del Norte for the medical check-up of two old persons.
He picked up Bensarali from Filipino Hotel in Cotabato City and drove toward Sultan Kudarat. They were waiting on the highway in Barangay Simuay, Sultan Kudarat town when a D4D pick-up arrived with two old persons on board.
The two, later identified as Cayamora and Farhana, transferred to the van.
Barangay Simuay is the crossroads to Marawi and to Davao.
Upon reaching Amas, North Cotabato, Salazar said Bensarali told him they would get off in Davao City instead of Tagum.
Authorities confiscated P363,000 cash, the van, several IDs, personal belongings and other pieces of evidence.
Gapay said Cayamora would be detained at the city police office. Cayamora faces rebellion charges in connection with the Marawi incident.
“His arrest is a big blow to the Maute and [Islamic State] because he is the patriarch of the Maute,” Gapay said.
During his younger days, Cayamora led the Maute group, Gapay claimed.
The Davao regional police director, Chief Supt. Manuel Gaerlan, said Cayamora had four warrants of arrest for kidnapping and serious detention issued by the Regional Trial Court in Lanao del Sur.
Cayamora’s wife also has a warrant of arrest for illegal possession of firearms and blasting caps, also issued by a court in Lanao del Sur, Gaerlan said.
Davao City police chief Sr. Supt. Alexander Tagum said authorities would further step up security in Davao City and deploy more police.