President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he has received reports that international terrorist group ISIS is now connected with the local terror group, Maute.
“We are not good today because finally, finally, intelligence community advised me that ISIS has finally connected with the group in the Philippines called the Maute. There’s a raging war now in Lanao,” he said.
The local terrorist group occupied Butig's town center in Lanao del Sur last Saturday, five months after the military freed the town from the group's presence.
A black ISIS flag was also raised by the group in place of the Philippine flag.
Its leaders, Omar and Abdullah Maute, have already pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and even use the ISIS name and symbol.
ISIS or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, is a Salafi jihadist militant group that has been widely criticized for its terrorist activities, particularly in the Middle East.
Military spokesman Brigadier General Restituto Padilla earlier denied links between the Maute group and ISIS, and said the group’s re-occupation of Butig is a “propaganda activity” meant to attract international attention.
On Monday, the firefight between the military and the terrorist group entered its third day, leaving thousands of local villagers displaced.