CLARK, Pampanga: Now that the Islamic State-linked Maute group in Marawi City has been “wiped out,” Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Tuesday that the military would now focus on other terrorist groups based in other parts of Mindanao.
In a news conference after the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Defense Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) here, Lorenzana said the military, as well as the public, should not worry about the Maute, for now.
Lorenzana’s declaration came a day after he announced that all combat operations in Marawi City had been terminated. In the five-month battle, military records showed that about 962 terrorists, 165 soldiers and 47 civilians were killed.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will be focusing on the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Central Mindanao and the Abu Sayyaf Group in Sulu.
“You know, the Maute family is practically wiped out. The seven sons of the Mautes–Farhana and Cayamora–are all killed in Marawi. So I think the Maute are finished at the moment,” Lorenzana told reporters.
However, Lorenzana said that the younger ones in the Maute group may “follow the footsteps” of their elder siblings Abdullah, Ottoh, Maddie and Omarkhayam.
Abdullah, Ottoh and Maddie were killed following the rescue of Catholic priest Teresito Soganub in September, as confirmed by AFP Chief Eduardo Año.
Meanwhile, Omarkhayam and IS “emir” for Southeast Asia Isnilon Hapilon were killed in predawn assault operations on October 16.
President Rodrigo Duterte declared Marawi City liberated from the hands of the terrorists on October 17. DEMPSEY REYES