From Malaya Business Insight (Jul 6): Maute finance officers arrested
TWO female members of the Maute Group were arrested yesterday by government forces during a raid on their safehouse in Cagayan de Oro City, where the group is supposedly assembling bombs to be used in bombing the city.
Monaliza Solaiman Romato and Tahera Romato Taher, who the military said were involved in the finance and logistics operations of the group, were arrested at a house in Barangay Macasandig at around 4:30 a.m.
The house is being rented by one Irene Romato Idris and was raided by virtue of a search warrant issued by Cagayan de Oro City judge Dennis Alcantar, said AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla.
Recovered from the house were various explosives, components and items including four M203 grenades, a C4 explosive, detonating cords, incandescent bulbs, a jungle knife, ammonium nitrate.
The suspects are now in the custody of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Northern Mindanao.
Padilla said Romato alias Monay is a niece of Farhana Romato Maute, the mother of Maute Group leaders Omar and Abdullah Maute who led the siege on Marawi City on May 23.
Farhana was arrested by government forces in June 9 in Lanao del Sur, along with 15 other Maute members. Her husband, Cayamora, was arrested with four companions in Davao City on June 6.
Padilla said Romato took over as logistics officer after Farhana’s arrest.
“The arrest of these two people affected the financing and logistics network (of the group) because alias Monay replaced her auntie in facilitating the financial support coming from supporters,” said Padilla.
Padilla said Taher is also helping in facilitating the logistics of the Maute Group.
Padilla also disclosed that Romato also has a daughter, identified as one Kulingling who he said is “serving as the liaison of the Maute Group cell in Cagayan de Oro City.
Padilla said it was in the raided house the Maute are assembling bombs. He said the plot was known before the arrest on June 15 arrest of Maute bomber Mohammad Noaim Maute, alias Abu Jadid, in Cagayan de Oro City.
Padilla said the arrested bomber did not yield any bomb or components when arrested. Investigations later established that the group had been using another safehouse to store and assemble bombs.
“This is where they are storing their equipment and components in the assembly of IEDs (improvised explosive devices),” Padilla said of the raided house.
He said female members are staying at the safe house as not to invite suspicion from authorities. However, male Maute members have frequenting the place.
“This accomplishment is very important, especially to the city of Cagayan de Oro, because we found the bomb components which may be used in bombing Cagayan de Oro and nearby areas,” said Padilla.
“So we effectively foiled any plan that this group may have in order to create trouble or havoc by bombing certain areas with the discovery of the (explosives and bomb components) at the house,” said Padilla.
Brig. Gen. Gilbert Gapay, martial law spokesman in Eastern Mindanao, said the arrest prevented the Maute from staging diversionary attacks in northern Mindanao and adversely affected the logistics support network of the group.
President Duterte, during a visit to the 1002nd Infantry Brigade in Sarangani province yesterday, told soldiers in jest he would have another problem when the Marawi conflict is over, and that is where to detain the Maute members and others connected to the siege.
To avoid the problem, he said, soldiers should kill the enemies instead of taking prisoners.
Duterte also said that once the military leaves Marawi, there would not be enough policemen to guard the jailed Maute men and there could be attempts for a prison breakout.
The conflict has left 39 civilians, 85 government troops, and 343 Maute men dead as of July 4.