Some members of the Islamic State-inspired Maute terror group are possibly hiding in Metro Manila, National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Oscar Albayalde said Wednesday.
He made the statement a day after the military said six urban areas are being watched for possible terror attacks.
Albayalde said some of the terrorists could be hiding in large Muslim enclaves like in Quiapo in Manila and in Taguig City.
Muslim enclaves in Quezon City and Muntinlupa City were included in the watchout for possible terrorist presence.
The Metro police chief said terrorists are in the city not only to hide and seek refuge but also to recruit members.
“In the poverty-stricken areas, terrorists are usually there because it is easy for them to convince people to join. It is easy for the financially challenged people’s minds to be poisoned because these terrorists usually say they will change their lives,” Albayalde said.
However, he said terrorists have not been successful in their recruitment activities.
Albayalde said the military have appealed to Muslim leaders to help authorities capture terrorists.
“If they notice something out of the ordinary, they will report to us. We have good collaboration kasi ayaw rin nila mainvolve ang whole community sa terrorism (because they do not want the entire community to be involved in terrorism,” he said.
A military source confirmed Albayalde’s warning, saying remnants of the Maute group could be roaming around the Philippine capital.
“But I do not have the exact number as to how many are in the Metro. There were gossips but our assessment is that Metro Manila is stable, but troops are always ready for any eventuality. The important thing here is the immediate response,” the source told reporters.
He added that members of the Maute Group may have mixed up with Maranao businessmen who moved to Metro Manila.
“The Maranao businessmen migrated here in Manila and it is a huge possibility that there were [remnants]that went along with them…so that is our thrust, if how we will touch base with the Maranao businessmen to alienate the Maute who are here,” he said.
On Monday, the Philippine Army’s 1st Infantry Division said the IS in Southeast Asia has found its new “emir” in Abu Dar, who replaced Isnilon Hapilon who was killed during the onslaught in Marawi City last year.
Members of the Maute Group seized several areas in Marawi City last year and battled military forces for five months, leaving more than a thousand people.
with ROY NARRA