MANILA – The Philippine military said it has not monitored the presence of Maute Group members in Metro Manila, contradicting claims made by the police that the local terrorist group based in Central Mindanao has penetrated the country's capital.
"Insofar as the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is concerned, wala tayong na-monitor na members ng Maute Group dito sa Metro Manila (we have not monitored the presence of Maute Group members here in Metro Manila)," said AFP Public Affairs Office chief Colonel Edgard Arevalo on Tuesday, March 21.
The police said they found an improvised explosive device (IED) at a residence in Barangay Culiat in Quezon City, where they believe the Maute Group members behind the foiled attempt against the United States embassy in November 2016 have been hiding.
The target was a suspected "Maute Group ally", a certain Jamil Baja Tawil who has an outstanding warrant for illegal possession of firearms. He was not in the house so the owner, Nasip Ibrahim, was instead arrested for allegedly coddling the terrorists.
"Whether they are supporters or members of Maute Group themselves, it is up to the PNP to make an assessment and we respect it," Arevalo added.
The military is also involved in the investigation of the foiled bombing at the US embassy. "Kung mayroon man na-involve sa foiled bomb attack, ito ay nandoon na ulit sa Mindanao," said Arevalo. (If there are members who were involved in the foiled bomb attack, they are already back in Mindanao.)
The military has been fighting the local terrorist group in Central Mindanao and closely monitoring its movements.
The AFP's aim is to significantly weaken the group by June 2017, its self-imposed target.
Arevalo said the military is always on alert and closely coordinating with the police. – Rappler.com