Despite the end of the five-month siege in Marawi City, terrorist groups in Mindanao have continued its recruitment and, this time, they were not limited to Lanao del Sur, according to the Philippine Army’s leadership.
Lt. Gen. Rolando Joselito Bautista, the Army commanding general, said residents in the provinces of Sulu, Basilan and Sultan Kudarat were prone to being recruited based on reports the military has been receiving.
During the Marawi siege in 2017, Bautista served as the commander of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division, which covers the area of Lanao del Sur province and Zamboanga Peninsula region.
He also stood as commander of Joint Task Force Marawi before he was appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte to take over the Army leadership in October 2017.
“[The recruitments] are expected. In fact, after the Marawi liberation, the common actions of the supporters inside the area and several others we have neutralized have been recruiting and we have received reports that the recruitment is not limited within Lanao del Sur,” Bautista told reporters last Friday night.
“They continue to recruit in the areas of Basilan, Sulu and at Palimbang [in Sultan Kudarat],” he added.
He said that the previous situation of the terrorists was [that]different groups have joined forces under the leadership of slain Islamic State (IS) Southeast Asian “emir” Isnilon Hapilon, who all had the same goal, which was to form a caliphate in the city of Marawi.
“We all know that Isnilon is an Abu Sayyaf but he managed to unite different local terrorist groups to establish a caliphate within Marawi and we all know that they had support coming from different leaderships [of the IS]particularly from Indonesia and Malaysia,” Bautista said. DEMPSEY REYES