MANILA - The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said Thursday it was ready for a possible retaliation from terrorists following the arrest of Maute Group patriarch Cayamora Maute and his transfer to Metro Manila.
Brig. Gen. Gilbert Gapay, deputy commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command and spokesperson for the martial law implementation in Mindanao, said there was always the risk of a rescue or an attack wherever the patriarch may be.
“[We] were also prepared for some... in the event of retaliatory or diversionary attacks here in the area of Eastern Mindanao,” Gapay said in a press briefing in Davao City.
“[We] cannot discount the risk wherever he is. Nandoon pa rin ‘yan because we know how the Maute group operates. And ito nga ang pinaghahandaan natin, ng ating security forces, for any eventualities like this," he added.
Authorities flew the elder Maute to Metro Manila Thursday after he was arrested at a Davao City checkpoint with four other individuals on Tuesday.
Cayamora Maute is the father of Omar and Abdullah Maute, terror leaders behind the siege in Marawi City. Government has a standing offer of a P5 million reward for the "neutralization" of each of the brothers.
The elder Maute is now detained at Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig City.
Gapay said he was transferred to Metro Manila for security reasons.
“It is for security reasons that he was transferred. He is the patriarch and the head of the Maute clan. And as such, he is considered as a high-value individual and, at the same time, high-risk individual also. That’s why we opted to transfer him to Manila,” he said.
Aside from rebellion charges, authorities are now preparing other cases against Cayamora. This after Task Force Davao also discovered a grenade and a .45 caliber pistol inside the van where Maute was found.
President Rodrigo Duterte placed the entire Mindanao under martial law due to clashes between government forces and local terrorists, which have left over 200 dead and trapped around 2,000 residents.
Firefights erupted as state forces were attempting to arrest top Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, the anointed Islamic State leader in Southeast Asia.
Officials have said the ISIS was behind local terror groups that planned and executed the attacks. Foreign jihadists were among terrorists confirmed killed in the clashes.
Based on latest reports received by the military, Hapilon remains in Marawi City.