High-powered firearms seized from Maute group: military

Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 19 2017 07:33 PM

A sizable cache of 20 high-powered firearms was recovered by government security troops from the Maute group last Saturday, the military said on Monday.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines said these firearms are not ordinary weapons as these are able to fire and destroy targets from afar. Also recovered from the enemy were a high number of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and other types of explosives. 

"This is indicative of the length of planning that went to this operation of these rebels, when they were able to get this number of firearms and bring it to the area of operations over a period of time," AFP spokesman Brigadier General Restituto Padilla said.

The recovery of the firearms comes after President Duterte revealed that the Maute terrorists may have acquired their stockpile of weapons from the armed groups Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

In his speech last Saturday at the 4th Infantry Division in Butuan City, President Duterte said that the government knew all along that the rebels were gathering their weapons in Marawi but did not intervene because of the ongoing peace efforts with the MILF and talks with the MNLF. 

"It was not a failure of intelligence. Kasi kung makita pa silang may armas, tapos sabihin nila, MI[LF], MN[LF], ang standing order naman is…baka, baka sakali mapakiusapan pa natin ang mga kapatid natin. Walang gulo. But all the while, itong Maute, with the connivance of the politicians there, 'yung mga warlords, were stockpiling. Kaya ni hindi maubos 'yung M-203 na bala at napakarami. Magputok ang isa ng gobyerno, dadagdagan na --- ibabalik sa atin, lima. So, parang endless supply when Maute rose to fight against government," Duterte said.

The AFP confirmed that the Maute group's firearms may have been there in Marawi for a long time already. 

"Some of the members of the Maute group may have relatives in other armed groups. There are so many armed groups in Mindanao that could potentially be a source of firearms for this group," Padilla said. The general said that there have been many unsuccessful attempts to recover loose firearms held by these armed groups over the years. The military hopes that they will be able to do this during the period of martial law.

Aside from weapons, the military was also able to recover eleven kilos of suspected metamphetamine hydrochloride or "Shabu" from the Maute group. The illegal drugs were placed inside 11 packs and were taken by soldiers after a brief firefight against black-clad Maute members 6 p.m Sunday in Marawi. 

The Palace said this is not the first time that illegal drugs have been recovered from the Maute terrorists.