By Edith Regalado and John Unson (The Philippine Star)
Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. told The STAR on Tuesday that based on police and military intelligence information, deceased couple Rolly and Marriam Dimaucor originally owned the house where the money was found by men of the 7th Marine Battalion fighting Maute terrorists. Checks worth P27 million were also found in the house located in the Mapandi area. John Unson, file
P52 M traced to contractor
DAVAO CITY , Philippines – Former Marawi City mayor Fahad Salic was arrested last night in Cagayan de Oro City reportedly due to rebellion in connection with the Maute siege of Marawi.
Sources said Salic, former husband of actress Alma Moreno, could have been arrested because of his relation by affinity to the Maute clan.
Reports said one of Salic’s wives is a sister of Ominta “Farhana” Romato, the first wife of Cayamora Maute, patriarch of the Maute clan.
Cayamora Maute was arrested here in Davao City last Tuesday morning with four other members of his family.
Romato, on the other hand, is still at large, although she has been included in the gallery of those wanted in the Maute group.
Details of Salic’s arrest remained sketchy as of last night.
Meanwhile, a Maranao clan engaged in the construction business owns the house in Marawi where troopers recovered P52 million in cash on Monday, according to a ranking military official.
Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. told The STAR on Tuesday that based on police and military intelligence information, deceased couple Rolly and Marriam Dimaucor originally owned the house where the money was found by men of the 7th Marine Battalion fighting Maute terrorists. Checks worth P27 million were also found in the house located in the Mapandi area.
The couple’s children have taken over the construction business, which has reportedly undertaken several big-ticket government projects.
In Davao City, meanwhile, charges of rebellion and illegal possession of firearms and explosives are being readied against Cayamora Maute, the 67-year-old patriarch of the notorious Maute clan, and four others arrested with him at a checkpoint in Barangay Sirawan Tuesday morning.
Galvez said reports indicated the children of the Dimaucors took over the family construction business, Rol-Mar Construction and Development, after the demise of the couple about a decade ago.
“A follow-up verification is still being initiated,” Galvez said.
Sources from the regional offices of the Department of Public Works and Highways in Regions 10, 12 and in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) confirmed on Wednesday the involvement of the Dimaucor’s construction firm in big-ticket government projects.
A central Mindanao lawyer said one of the checks found along with the bundles of cash was intended for a contractor operating outside Marawi City.
Certain local government units were issuers of some of the checks, authorities said.
ARMM police are still tracing the ownership of the money.
Initial military and police reports said combined Maute and Abu Sayyaf terrorists – now calling themselves Dawlah Islamiya – occupied the house of the Dimaucors and mounted machine guns on windows.
The terrorists had abandoned the house when the Marines arrived.
Galvez said they were also looking into reports that terrorists had ransacked two banks in Marawi City.
The elder Maute was in a black Toyota Grandia van driven by a certain Aljon Salazar Ismael when accosted at a checkpoint put up by the Army-led Task Force Davao.
Also held were Kongan Alfonso Balawag, believed to be his third wife; their daughter Norjannah Balawag and son-in-law Benzarali Tingao.
The city prosecutor’s office conducted inquest proceedings at the Davao City Police Office where the group was being held.
Southern Police Regional Office head Chief Supt. Manny Gaerlan said the elder Maute is already facing five charges of kidnapping in Marawi City.
Kongan, a midwife, is an employee of a social welfare office of an unspecified local government unit in Central Mindanao, her relatives said. She was said to have filed a five-day leave from work that started on Monday.
Gaerlan said Maute was arrested even without a warrant as a .45 caliber pistol and a hand grenade were found inside the vehicle that ferried them from Cotabato City to Davao City.
He said the police also had to take in Ismael as the firearm and the hand grenade were found in his vehicle. Ismael denied having prior knowledge that he was ferrying the Mautes.
The police official told The STAR that several soldiers reported seeing Maute in Marawi City giving instructions to his men in the terror group organized by his sons. “They saw him even holding crutches while giving out orders,” Gaerlan said.
After slipping out of Marawi City, Maute proceeded to Cotabato City before arriving in Davao City Tuesday morning.
Relatives said Maute and Balawag do not live under one roof and that he would only occasionally visit her and their three children in central Mindanao.
Balawag’s daughter also reportedly had a miscarriage more than a week ago, possibly due to stress from the raging hostilities in Marawi City instigated by her older half-brothers.
Authorities, meanwhile, are looking for Maute’s first wife and family matriarch Ominta “Farhana” Romato, who was reported to have escaped from Marawi City through Iligan City.
Maute and Farhana are both in the gallery of wanted persons involved in the family’s illegal activities.
Eastern Mindanao Command spokesman and deputy commander Brig. Gen. Gilbert Gapay said they are checking on Maute’s and his companions’ other possible terror or criminal links as well their real purpose for coming to Davao.
“It cannot be that they just came to Davao City for nothing,” he said.
Gapay added that several individuals with suspected links to Maute had been rounded up. He did not provide details.
He also said they are bracing for the possibility the Maute brothers would rally other terrorists to try to rescue their father.
“It is very possible he would be rescued. We are on a maximum security alert status. It would remain the same alert status until we have neutralized the Maute group,” Gapay said.
“We have to keep him in a place where security is tightened and access to him would be hard,” he stressed. He said a battalion would be tapped to help secure Maute in Davao City.
“Cayamora is the brains of the Maute group. He does the networking and established everything so that their group would grow bigger and could be found in many more areas. And he is the financier. He has lots of money,” the police official pointed out.
“We are squeezing Cayamora for more information, that is why we are talking to him some more,” he added.
Doctors are reportedly monitoring Cayamora’s medical condition while in detention and as evidence against him and the others are being culled.
Task force Davao commended
The arrest of Maute and his companions earned praises from presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio. She commended Lt. Col. Nestor Mondia and his team for the arrest of the Maute patriarch.
“We commend the entire Task Force Davao team for always being alert, for their hard work and for their unquestionable dedication to keep Davao City and the Dabawenyos safe from terrorists like the Maute brothers,” Duterte-Carpio said.
“This is an important development in our collective fight to reclaim peace and defeat lawlessness and terrorism and all that threatens our freedom and future,” she said.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said Cayamora’s arrest “is a significant step to prevent and suppress future terroristic acts and we thank Task Force Davao for its quick response.”
With Cayamora’s arrest, the end of lawlessness in many parts of Mindanao may be just around the corner.
“The arrest of Cayamora Maute, the father of the Maute brothers Omar and Abdullah, at a military checkpoint is a welcome development to break the cycle of lawlessness in some areas in Mindanao,” Abella said.
Task Force Davao commander Col. Erwin Bernard Neri said no one had tipped off the military about the trip and that the arrest of the elder Maute was accidental.
“Let us therefore continue our vigilance and never lose sight of our common objective of bringing peace and development in the entire country,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ana Margarita Malvar, presidential adviser for entrepreneurship, announced yesterday that private individuals and firms have committed to launch relief operations in Marawi, under the “Kapatid for Marawi” program.
In a press briefing in Malacañang, Malvar said private groups have vowed to help and provide some measure of aid and comfort to the affected families and residents.
“So this is really a united response to help support and provide some measure of aid and comfort to our brothers and sisters who are displaced by the fighting that’s been ongoing,” she said.
“We’ve actually been undertaking relief operations over the past few days in the areas of Iligan and some of the border towns to Marawi City, specifically Pantar and Saguiaran,” Malvar said.
“I’d also like to mention that we are also actively engaged in partnerships with local stakeholders,” she said.
Kapatid for Marawi is coordinating with LGUs and getting logistical assistance from the Armed Forces of the Philippines. – Christina Mendez