Aquino on rebels in Lanao clashes: They want ISIS’ attention | Global News

Aquino on rebels in Lanao clashes: They want ISIS’ attention

/ 05:49 PM March 09, 2016

FERNANDO AIR BASE, Batangas—The rebels who attacked Butig, Lanao del Sur in a weeklong clashes with the military wanted to get the attention of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), President Benigno Aquino III said.


“Kung hindi ako nagkakamali, first time na kumilos ‘yung grupong iyan (If I’m not mistaken, it was the first time that group attacked) and what were they able to do? They harassed one detachment and a detachment by definition is small. So, again, ginawa iyon tawag pansin with the expectation ang pananaw ng ating intel community, ang pananaw ay para makalikom ng pondo mula sa Middle East. Kumbaga nagpapakitang-gilas at balik nga tayo doon (So, again, the attacks were done to get attention with the expectation, as our intel community believes, to collect funds from the Middle East. It seems like they were showing off and let’s go back to issue) is it ideological or religious? They will say it is, but, primarily, we believe it is by mercenary reasons that are prompting them to do this,” he told reporters in a press briefing on Wednesday.

The Moro rebel group is led by Maute brothers—Abdullah and Omar, and has around 40 to 80 members. The military says they are remnants of the Jemaah Islamiyah.


READ: AFP: Beheading of soldier in Lanao Sur a ‘war crime’

The rebels were able to sustain the weeklong clashes with the military with their strong defense and high-powered firearms, however, the government forces were able to overrun their base eventually. Thousands have fled because of the fighting.

The government has repeatedly denied the existence of ISIS in the country, saying it was a mere propaganda.

This is despite videos of rebels pledging allegiance to the ISIS circulating on the Internet and the acknowledgment of the latter to these materials.

READ: ISIS officially recognizes oath of allegiance from PH militant groups

It is reportedly required from rebel groups to show their capability to launch large-scale attacks in order to get funding from the ISIS.

Armed Forces chief Gen. Hernando Iriberri, meanwhile, explained that the rebels did not set up the compound they are using, which was fit for battle.


“The compound was initially built not by the group, it was built by some family rido ‘yon e. Nagumpisa kaya…Pati ‘yung tower doon, ginamit para sa rido. So, originally, hindi sila ang gumamit ‘non. So ‘nung nakita nila ‘yung opportunity na merong facility na ganun ginamit na nila,” he said in the same briefing.

(The compound was initially built not by the group, it was built by some family, that is a rido (“clan feuds”). Even the tower was used for the rido. So, originally, they (group) didn’t build it. So when they saw the opportunity, they used the facility.)

He also said the rebels had no supplier of high-powered firearms as speculated: “Alam mo naman doon sa Mindanao, sa ating mga kapatid na Muslim ay talagang gusto nila isa sa mga prized possession nila ay magkaroon ng armas (You know in Mindanao, our Muslim brothers consider firearms as prized possessions). So it was not supplied by any group. Individually nila kinuha iyon, na-acquire (They acquired it individually).”

Iriberri also defended the deployment of the Light Reaction Company (LRC) troops to the said clashes. The LRC is a special unit that leads in the conduct of anti-terrorist operations, mostly high-profile.

“Ang LRC hindi lamang para sa terorista (LRC is not just deployed to fight terrorists). Any group that would threaten the lives of our people and the communities, ginagamit natin iyon,” he said.

(LRC is not just deployed to fight terrorists. We use it against any group that would threaten the lives of our people and the communities.) RAM

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TAGS: clashes, ISIS, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, Lanao, President Benigno Aquino III, Rebels
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