Police have sent a clear message to the Maute brothers — the leaders of the terror gang bearing their name — “take care” of your hostages and we’ll “take care” of your father.
Chief Superintendent Manuel Gaerlan made the statement in Davao City just hours after the arrest of Cayamora Maute, father of Abdullah and Omar Maute, whose group has caused chaos in Marawi City for the past two weeks.
“They now see their patriarch and they are holding hostages. I want to tell them, take care of your hostages and we will also take care of [your father],” he said. It is believed that militants in the city are holding some 240 Christians hostage.
Mr Maute Senior was inside a van along with three relatives and a driver, when they were stopped at a checkpoint. It is thought he was travelling to Davao City to seek medical attention when apprehended.
However, their plans were disrupted when their headquarters were raided by the armed forces three days earlier.
The operation was an attempt to capture Isnilon Hapilon, IS’s regional representative, or ‘emir’. Hapilon, who is also a commander of Abu Sayyaf and has a $5 FBI bounty on his head.
It is believed he was in the city to unite the various islamist groups of the Philippines under the black flag of IS.
The level of chaos that followed the raid, and the presence of numerous foreign jihadis, suggests that he had made progress in this aim.
Also arrested alongside the Maute patriarch was his wife Kongan Alfonso Balawag, his daughter Norjannah Balawag Maute and her husband, Benzarali Tingao.
The arrests are considered a major blow to the terrorist group, which has lost at least 120 fighters in the ongoing clashes.
As a result of the Marawi City siege, President Duterte placed all of Mindanao under martial law. He also suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, allowing warrantless arrests.
The latest numbers for militants killed in the battle is 120, along with 39 soldiers and police. The civilian death toll is somewhere between 20 and 38.