DAVAO CITY, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte bared a new matrix that linked the terrorist Maute Group to illegal drugs, as he tagged more than 30 Lanao del Sur officials and a businessman in the illegal drug trade.
In a gathering with Davao-based journalists on Friday, September 22, Duterte said this could explain how the Islamic State (ISIS)-inspired Maute Group sustains its operations in Marawi City.
Duterte's remarks come two months after the Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict said ISIS in Syria was funding terrorists in Marawi.
Presented to journalists on Friday, Duterte's new matrix named suspected drug lords among politicians, and indicated their supposed ties with drug dealers.
The matrix, Duterte said, explains "how they operated in the drug campaign in Marawi and the entire of Mindanao."
"You would say there that – malalaman mo na (you will know). That is the work of the intelligence for the last 3 months or two when we were able to penetrate the insides of the, the entrails of the city," he said.
Suspected drug lords
In the matrix that Duterte showed on Friday, the following were suspected to be drug lords operating in Lanao del Sur:
Duterte admitted, however, that the government was finding it hard to draw conclusions, thus he released the matrix on Friday.
"They have a trouble drawing up somewhere in – kaya sabi ko bitawan na natin (that's why I said let's leave it), it's no use keeping it a secret, for what?" he said.
Maute Group 'preparing for long haul'
In his meeting with Davao-based journalists at the Matina Enclaves, Duterte also said the government discovered that the Maute Group "was really preparing for (the) long haul."
"Until now, they are…they never ran out of ordnance, explosives, ammunitions, and all. I really do not know the extent now of the contamination," he said.
The packs of shabu were recovered by troops in their clearing operations against the Maute group.
Apart from illegal drugs, Duterte blamed "alien" ideology for the conflict in Marawi City, which as killed at least 147 government forces, 45 civilians, and 660 terrorists.
On Friday, he emphasized that that the government was not waging war against Islam, and that it was crucial to negotiate with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
On the same day, terrorism expert Rohan Gunaratna said in a conference in Manila that the Philippine government earlier failed to read signs of the "build-up" of ISIS in the Philippines, leading to the Marawi siege.
Gunaratna noted, however, that Duterte "acknowledged that IS is operating in the Philippines," unlike the country's previous leaders. – Rappler.com