The recent attack by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in a school in Pigcawayan, North Cotabato was not intended to spread the rebellion in Mindanao but to divert the military's attention away from the fighting in Marawi City, the governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) said Friday.
ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman nonetheless believes that the Maute rebels currently laying siege parts of the Islamic City are moving out of Marawi City and into neighboring areas.
"Ang reading ko nga at kuwentuhan na rin namin, kung mag-alert man tayo sa ibang lugar, mas diversionary. Halimbawa, yung nangyari sa North Cotabato, alam naman natin yun na diversionary na lang, hindi yun may intent na gumawa pa ng katulad ng Marawi," he told radio DZMM.
He noted that some Maute family members were not arrested in Marawi City, but elsewhere.
Their matriarch, Farhana Maute, and 2 other injured Maute group members were arrested in Lanao del Sur, while their patriarch, Cayamora Maute, was arrested in Davao.
Several supposed siblings and cousins were also arrested in the Visayas and in other parts of Mindanao.
Hataman said they also received information that these individuals were actually heading to urban centers such as Davao City and Metro Manila, where they had hoped they would not be recognized.
"May feedback na tayo prior to that na merong nagpa-planong paalis papuntang Metro Manila. Alam nilang hindi sila pagdududahan doon. Tingin ko para magtago yun," he said.
"Yung tatay, kung tutuusin nga, hindi sila dapat pupunta ng Davao, lugar ni Presidente. Pero mas pinili nila yun kasi hindi sila pagdududahan na andun kasi very strict—kung naka-lusot. Ang problema nga, hindi rin sila naka-lusot," he added.
MORE RELIEF SUPPLIES
Hataman said the number of evacuees has risen to around 50,000 families or 320,000 individuals after residents of nearby towns also left their homes because of the rebellion.
He also said the ARMM government will increase the bi-weekly relief supplies to 25 kilograms of rice per family from the current 5 kilograms.
"Ang plano namin, before Eid’l Fitr, mag-distribute kami kung kumpleto na, lahat ay kumpleto na yung written information ng 25 kilos na every two weeks para hindi rin kami napapagod," he said.
"Per family, 25 kilos na ang ipapamigay namin. Kasi dati ang binibigay natin, plastic bag na may 5 kilos, meron sardinas; pero ngayon, babaguhin natin, mag- shift kami sa 25 kilos na," he added.