AUTHORITIES on Thursday, July 6, pressed charges of illegal possession of explosives against the alleged financier and spy of local terrorist Maute group, who were arrested in a raid here at Sitio Aluba, Macasandig village on Wednesday, July 5.
The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG)-Cagayan de Oro City (CDOC) charged Monaliza Solaiman Romato and Tahera Romato Taher with illegal possession of explosives (Republic Act 9516), which is a non-bailable offense.
Already, the suspects have started undergoing inquest proceedings Thursday afternoon at Camp Evangelista in Barangay Patag, this city. It will continue Friday, July 7.
Chief Inspector Melgar Devaras, CIDG-Cagayan de Oro City city officer, said they are considering the filing of rebellion charges against the suspects as soon as witnesses are available.
"Pag may makuhang testigo isusunod namin ang (filing) of) rebellion (If we find a witness, we will follow the filing of rebellion charges)," Devaras said.
Romato and Taher and one, identified as Gazmin Mantawazi Abdullah were arrested at their rented apartment in Aluba, Macasandig village, based on a search warrant served by the raiding team. However, the police’s main target Irene Romato Idris was nowhere to be found during the raid.
Explosives like 4 M203 grenade (40mm HE) and C4 including materials for bomb-making were seized inside the apartment.
Devaras said that only Romato and Taher were charged since they have yet to determine the involvement and connection of Gazmin with the Maute extremists.
Authorities will release Gazmin within 72 hours after his arrest if no cases will be filed against him.
But, Gazmin will still undergo a thorough police investigation.
Police details pointed that Romato and Idris took over the position of the Maute matriarch Ominta Romato alias Farhana as the group's financier while Taher was allegedly acting as intelligence and liaison officer for the terrorists.
Northern Mindanao police spokesperson Lemuel Gonda said authorities will look into a notebook found inside the apartment.
It reportedly contains the list of Maute members that actively participated in the ongoing Marawi siege.
Gonda said the notebook will help the intelligence community in the link analysis to identify more Maute members and subsequently trace their whereabouts.
"Ang tawag nato ana (We call that) is document exploitation. Atong tan-awon kinsa ang mga naa didto then ibutang sa link analysis chart para matumbok unsa ilang network (We will identify who are listed there then we will put them in the link analysis chart to point out their network)," Gonda said.
The spokersperson said the suspects might have entered the city easily despite rigid checkpoints since they are not on the arrest orders issued by the defense department and on the wanted terrorist posters.
But, he said policemen across the region remain on the lookout for Maute fighters and sympathizers, who might have escaped the war-torn city.
"From time to time gakadawat man ta og info nga naa pay mga membro nga naa diri pero hugot ang monitoring nato nga dil sila makagubot sa kahusay ug kalinaw sa syudad ug uban bahin sa Northern Mindanao (we receive information that there are members of the terror group here, but we have strict monitoring to prevent them from inflicting violence in Northern Mindanao)," Gonda said.
"Kanang mga membro nga wala sa listahan ug sa wanted terrorist poster, atong gi-update ang mga hotel and other establishments ana apil na ang publiko nga ireport kung naay makita nga kaduda-duda (Those members not listed in the wanted terrorist poster, hotels and other establishments were updated with their presence. Public are also encourage to report suspicious people)," Gonda added.