MARAWI CITY - Barely a month after their defeat in this city, the remnants of the Islamic State-inspired Maute group have started recruiting new members, the military said Wednesday.
Maute recruiters have spread to areas outside Lanao Del Sur, where they target relatives of the extremists slain in Marawi, according to Col. Romeo Brawner, deputy commander of Task Group Ranao.
"Unang tinatarget nila sa recruitment ay yung mga kamag anak nung mga namatay dito sa Marawi. Pangalawa estudyante, at pangatlo mga bata, nagrerecurit pa rin sila ng mga child warriors," Brawner told ABS-CBN News.
(The prime targets of their recruitment are the relatives of those killed in Marawi. Second are the students and third are children. They are still recruiting child warriors.)
"Posibleng 'pag nakabuo sila ng grupo ay magsagawa ulit sila ng atake, but we don't know where," he added.
(They may mount an attack if they succeed in regrouping, but we don't know where.)
Terrorists who escaped from Marawi during the first days of the fighting are leading the recruitment, Brawner said.
The group has lured 200 recruits, who have started training in the mountains between Butig, Lanao Del Sur and Cotabato City, ABS-CBN intelligence sources said.
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Assemblyman Zia Alonto Adiong said he received the same information, adding recruits were promised at least P30,000.
He urged security forces to tap barangay officials to help prevent a repeat of the 5-month-long conflict in Marawi, which left much of the city in ruins and displaced thousands.
"The military and the government have to sit down. Yan ang iniiwasan natin because that's going to be a full scale guerilla warfare, mahirap ang guerilla warfare compared dito sa Marawi na constrained sila in one area," Adiong said.
(We are trying to avoid that as it could lead to full scale guerilla warfare, which would be more difficult compared to the battle for Marawi, were the extremists were constrained in one area.)