An ally of President Rodrigo Duterte has backed the call of the Defense department to declare an all-out war against the Maute group.
Rep. LRay Villafuerte of Camarines Sur was referring to the terrorist group based in Lanao del Sur that even hoisted the black emblem of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria or ISIS in their base in Butig, Lanao del Sur.
The ISIS calls for establishment of an Islamic state and is notorious for beheading hostages and encouraging raping women.
“The fact that they [Maute group] are using the ISIS emblem confirms their allegiance to the dreaded ISIS. We hope that the President will not relent in his campaign against the Maute gang. The options that should be made available to the Maute is either to surrender or perish,” Villafuerte said in a statement.
Defense chief Delfin Lorenzana has also linked the Maute group, along with the Bangamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, to last week’s bomb attack in Leyte that injured at least 34 people.
Villafuerte noted that Prof. Rommel Banlaoi, a security analyst who heads the board of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research, had described the Maute group as one of 10 terrorist organizations in the country that had declared loyalty to the ISIS.
Banlaoi has also linked the Maute group to Jemaah Islamiyah, which is associated with the late Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda.
“This group could become the biggest threat to the Duterte administration’s plan to finally transform Mindanao into a primary growth driver of the Philippine economy,” according to Villafuerte, vice chairman of the House Committee on National Defense and Security.
“The Duterte administration should continue to pursue the peace process with Islamic groups in Mindanao but should never waver in its hardline stance against terrorist groups or transnational crime organizations,” he said.
In December 2016, lawyer and Anak Mindanao party-list Rep. Makmod Mending warned that the Maute group is propagating views that non-believers of Islam will be killed.