MANILA – Remnants of the Islamic State-inspired terrorists from the Maute Group continue to recruit civilians around Marawi City, threatening to disrupt peace once more in the restive Mindanao region, the military said Friday.
Armed Forces Spokesperson Col. Edgard Arevalo said the military has monitored recruitment activities in the “immediate vicinity” of Marawi City, the site of the 5-month long siege which claimed the lives of nearly a thousand terrorists.
"Dito natin nakikita 'yung nagi-i-intensify pa rin sila in the sense na hindi sila humihinto sa kanilang ginagawang recruitment at patuloy na pagkumbinsi na sumali sa kanilang hanay. And of course may mga offer pa rin sila ng financial remunerations kagaya nito,” he said in a news briefing in Malacañang.
He said the terrorists also continue to tap social media in their recruitment efforts, which he said began as early as the liberation of Marawi in October 23.
"Ang monitoring natin nito ay base doon sa mga nire-report din sa atin ng mga citizen in this locality. So, definitely hindi naman openly nila ginagawa ang kanilang pagre-recruit,” he said.
“But what we can say for now is may namo-monitor tayong ganitong reports kaya pagpapatuloy ang ating operations upang siguruhin na they will not succeed.”
Arevalo said the terrorists’ relatives and the youth are among the easy targets of the militants, noting these sectors of the society are the most exposed and vulnerable to extremist ideologies.
Congress this week extended the martial law in Mindanao for another year, from January 1 to December 31, 2018, on the request of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Duterte has welcomed Congress’ approval of his request to extend martial law in Mindanao for another year, saying this will provide the government a “big window” in fighting terrorism.
In his letter to Congress requesting for the martial law extension, the President cited the continuing threats from Islamist extremists as well as communist rebels.
Duterte particularly cited the Turaifie Group, led by a certain “Abu Turaifie”, who is said to be the successor of slain Abu Sayyaf leader and IS Southeast Asia “emir” Isnilon Hapilon.
Arevalo said there are about 22 men in Turaifie’s group.
Duterte placed Mindanao, home to 22 million people, under military rule after Islamic State sympathizers attacked Marawi last May 23.
Over 1,100 people, mostly Islamic State-inspired terrorists, were killed in the siege, which also displaced over 300,000 residents from the city considered as the center of Islamic faith in Mindanao.