Maguindanao: Five members of the Maute terror group, including a suspect in the September 2 Davao City bombing were arrested in continuing pursuit operations against the bandits in Barira town here.
Senior Supt. Agustin Tello, director of the Maguindanao provincial police office, said one of the arrested militants, Jessy Vincent Orihinal, who was a former Philippine National Police (PNP) member, was implicated in the September 2, 2016 bombing in Davao City that left 15 dead and wounded more than 60 others.
Tello said Orihinal and his companions, Ibrahim Arumpac, Hamza Bagul, Musa Rasamallah and Mohammad Said Biniday, are now detained and undergoing tactical interrogation by law enforcers.
The director of the Maguindanao provincial police said, the five men were arrested Thursday in a series of operations in Barangay Nabalawag in Barira by combined elements of the PNP and personnel of the Army’s 37th Infantry Battalion.
Law enforcers also seized six vehicles which those arrested planned to hide somewhere in Barira town that is closest to the border of Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur provinces.
Local officials in Lanao del Sur also confirmed on Friday that all five arrested suspects are active members of the Maute group.
The operation that led to their arrest was undertaken after confidential information reached the Barira municipal police from informants, among whom are Maranao and Iranun Muslim preachers.
Police investigators said the informants are rabidly against the Maute group for its un-Islamic practices and for enforcing a Taliban-style Shari’ah justice system that local residents hate so much for being primitive and barbaric.
Members of the Maute group, also known as the Dawlah Islamiya, have been on the run for three weeks now following a 12-day Army operation that drove them out of their bastion, the hinterland Butig town in the 1st district of Lanao del Sur.
The government offensive was launched after about a hundred fanatical Maute gunmen stormed and looted villages in the center of Butig in late November.
The vehicles seized from the militants, a white Toyota Tamaraw FX (ULB-358), a gray Mitsubishi Adventure (DSL-162), a white Mitsubishi Montero (AEX-783), a white Toyota Fortuner (TDQ-440), silver Toyota Fortuner (TQK-892) and a Toyota Hi-Ace van without license plates, are now in the custody of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-ARMM (CIDG-ARMM).
Tello said the CIDG-ARMM and the PNP Traffic Management Group are now validating the ownership and registration of each of the impounded vehicles.
Meanwhile, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) shot dead just two weeks ago five Maute gunmen and wounded seven others as they tried to retreat towards an MILF-controlled territory near Buldon town in Maguindanao from Butig to elude pursuing soldiers.
The government and the MILF are bound to mutually cooperate in neutralizing criminals and terrorists in conflict-affected areas because an interim ceasefire agreement was signed by negotiators of both panels in Cagayan de Oro City in July 1997.
Officials of different municipal peace and order councils in Lanao del Sur earlier said even members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), which signed the Final Peace Agreement with Malacañang on September 2, 1996, have also been guarding their government-recognized camps from intrusion by the outlawed Maute terror group.