MANILA, Philippines – Government troops have recovered around 11 kilos of shabu in one of the remaining flashpoints held defensively by the terrorist Maute group in Marawi City.
The stash, along with four high-power firearms, was confiscated by the Alfa Company led by 1st Lt. Emerson Tapang of the Army’s 49th Infantry Battalion, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) reported yesterday.
Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. said the troops were on clearing operations about 6 p.m. of Sunday when they spotted several men in black emerging from a cluster of houses.
The terrorists engaged the troops in a firefight as they fled.
The AFP estimated the street value of the recovered high-grade shabu at between P110 million to P250 million.
“This strengthens our findings that these terrorists are using illegal drugs, which according to Muslim religious leaders is haram (forbidden),” Galvez said.
Respected Muslim preachers and leaders, he added, branded the terrorist Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups as “not Muslims” for violating “every tenet of the teachings in the Holy Quran.”
Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, AFP spokesman, said soldiers are now on a door-to-door, inch-by-inch operation to pursue the remnants of the terrorist group.
He added that Marawi City is still on lockdown and that all entry and exit points are well guarded.
Aside from using and peddling illegal drugs, Maute and Abu Sayyaf terrorists are also allegedly using mosques as sniper positions, logistics hubs and safe havens for the command and control of their core group.
Brig. Gen. Rolando Joselito Bautista, commander of 1st Infantry Division, slammed the terrorists for their continued use of mosques as battle positions and the use of drugs.
“Troops in the frontline say they are facing drug-crazed individuals who are evidently high on drugs,” said Lt. Col. Jo-Ar Herrera, spokesman for the 1st Infantry Division.
The Maute and Abu Sayyaf have claimed allegiance to the Islamic State (IS), a Middle East-based terrorist organization aimed at establishing a caliphate in the Arab region. Both terrorist groups have said they wanted to create Mindanao as an IS province in Southeast Asia.
The AFP said the recovered illegal drugs were turned over to appropriate government agencies.
Meanwhile, a police team killed two members of a faction of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Shariff Aguak town in Maguindanao last Sunday.
Senior Supt. Agustin Tello, Maguindanao province police director, said fatalities Raul Angkay and Edz Dalending refused to give up after policemen and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group served warrants of arrest for their involvement in several bombing incidents. – With Roel Pareño, Gerry Lee Gorit, John Unson, Edith Regalado