TWO members of the Maute Terror Group, including a child warrior, surrendered to military authorities for fear they might be targeted in the ongoing focused military operations in Lanao del Sur, officials said Friday.
Lieutenant Colonel Edgar Allan Villanueva, Army’s 49th Infantry Battalion commander, identified the Maute group surrenderers only as Hussein, 17, and Ashlani, 34, who surrendered around 3 p.m. Thursday in Butig, Lanao del Sur.
The two surrendered amidst the focused-military operations in the adjacent municipality of Sultan Dumalandong in the same province.
Villanueva said the two were afraid that they will be the next target of the ongoing focused military operation.
“We were left by our leaders after one of the encounters with the troops. We have nowhere to run, so we opted to surrender,” Villanueva quoted Ashlani as saying.
Villanueva said the two were recruited and trained by the late Maute brothers, Omar and Abdullah, sometime in 2013 in Barangay Sandab, Butig, Lanao del Sur.
The two Maute brothers were separately killed during the five-month battle in Marawi City in 2017.
Villanueva said the surrender of the two was facilitated by the Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Post (JCMP) and the local community.
He said the relationships between them and the populace were reinforced through intensified conduct of Civil-Military Operations in the area.
“We have intensified our Civil-Military Operations to build good rapport with the populace in the area,” Villanueva said.
“Out here, it is not just about fighting the enemy, but also how to win communities – and that truly made a big impact when it comes to the accomplishing our mission,” he added.
Colonel Romeo Brawner, Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade commander, said they are giving the remaining members of the Maute group a chance to live a peaceful and meaningful life.
“We are calling on the remaining Maute-IS fighters to surrender peacefully to the nearest military installation before the next combat operations falls into your doorsteps. Take this offer now before it’s too late,” Brawner said.
Government troops and Maute group members led by Owaida Benito Marohombsar alias Abu Dar on Thursday in Sultan Dumalondong, Lanao del Sur.
Major General Roseller Murillo, Army’s 1st Infantry Division commander, the clash is the result of the relentless campaign against the Maute remnants and the group of Abu Dar.
“We also ask the local populace for their trust, support and prayers for our troops who are still in the area to neutralize the remaining Maute ISIS remnants who continously threaten the safety and well being of Meranaos,” said Murillo, who is also the Task Force Zampelan (Zamboanga Peninsula and Lanao provinces) commander. (Bong Garcia/SunStar Philippines)