By Antonio L. Colina IV
Davao City – Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa said the Islamic State-inspire Maute Group no longer has the capability to launch an assault similar to the Marawi siege.
During the Anti-terrorism and Crisis management Drill at the Abreeza Mall on Wednesday, Dela Rosa told reporters that they have been receiving information that the remaining members of Maute Group have been recruiting members “but based on our assessment they cannot launch a Marawi City-like siege.”
The country’s top cop said they would nevertheless still need to prepare to prevent a repeat of the Marawi siege, perpetrated by Maute Group that occupied the country’s lone Islamic City for five months beginning May 23, 2017.
Last October 16, after nearly five months of combat operations, the military killed Abu Sayyaf Group leader Isnilon Hapilon, the emir of the ISIS in Southeast Asia, along with Omar Maute. President Rodrigo R. Duterte then declared Marawi liberated from the influence of the Maute Group.
Dela Rosa said Southern Storm, an anti-terrorism and crisis management drill, was conducted in the city and will be done in Metro Manila next month to prepare all enforcement agencies, city and barangay officials to efficiently handle a crisis situation such as terrorism attacks.
He said they chose to hold the first simulation exercises in the city because “we know the threat here in the key cities of Mindanao,” saying the Maute Group has intentions to retaliate after suffering a huge setback in Marawi.
Dela Rosa said the police aims to enhance coordination among different government agencies, including the security sector, and improve interoperability of all government forces.
He added that they were also validating reports about the presence of 40 foreign terrorists in the country.
“Mabuti umuwi dito para manahimik na lang dahil pagod sa Syria, Iraq, hindi mag create ng gulo kung mag create ng gulo that’s a very difficult situation (It’s good if they stay here peacefully after coming from Syria and Iraq, and they will not create trouble. If they create trouble, then that’s a very difficult situation),” he said.
Dela Rosa said they will “act fast” once the security sector locates those alleged foreign terrorists.