Military wants media to limit coverage on Maute group

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 02 2016 03:13 PM

Butig Mosque. Photo by Chiara Zambrano, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The military has appealed to media organizations to limit their coverage on the Maute group that has terrorized parts of Lanao del Sur earlier this week, the Armed Forces' spokesperson said Friday.

The Maute group occupied and raided the town of Butig for almost a week before they were flushed out by government forces Thursday.

The show of force from the Maute group is a ploy to be noticed by the Islamic State or ISIS, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Restituto Padilla said.

"Sana hindi na lang ito naibabalita kasi pumapasok lang ito sa kagustuhan nila na mailagay sa pahayagan, at ibang balita na maaaring makarating sa kanilang gustong audience (ISIS)," Padilla told Palace reporters.

(It would be better if news about the Maute group will not be reported because we are only giving them an opportunity to reach their target audience.)

Before trying to seek an alliance with ISIS, the Maute group has been affiliated with the Jemaah Islamiyah that used to be a significant terrorist group in Southeast Asia in in the mid-90's, Padilla said.

They are now trying to establish a link with ISIS in hopes that they will receive funding from the international terrorist organization, Padilla added.

Though the Maute group is still classified as a terrorist group, the military is willing to heed the call of President Rodrigo Duterte for the AFP to set aside its weapons and have a dialogue with the Filipino terrorists who would want to start anew, Padilla said.

"This initiative for peace that has been sounded off by the President has the support and backing of the Armed Forces," he said.

But the offer to make peace should not be "at the expense of justice," Padilla added.

"Those who have pending warrants or who were already sentenced in court must answer for the crimes they have committed," he said.

Maute group members have yet to "send fillers" that they are ready to raise the white flag and start anew.

The military warned Filipino terrorists that the government's offer has an expiration date.

"Kung gusto nila ng ganitong labanan, haharapin natin sila. May hangganan po lahat... Napakalalim ng bulsa ng Armed Forces upang tapusin at tugisin kayo," the AFP spokesman said.

(If they want war, we will give them war. There is a limit to our patience... The Armed Forces has all the means to obliterate their forces.)