"Maute group has relatives, sympathizers in Marawi " - Mayor Gandamra said

The Maute terrorist group who have been terrorizing Marawi City to get acknowledgement from the ISIS  are found to have relatives and sympathizers in the city.

"We cannot deny the fact na meron po talagang mga kamag-anak and few sympathizers of this group dito sa Marawi City dahil ito pong Maute group, some of them have roots dito sa ating lugar," Marawi City Mayor Majul Usman Gandamra admitted in a interview on Monday. "Hindi naman po maraming sympathizers. Ang sinasabi ko lang ang Maute group ay meron din silang roots dito sa Marawi City. Ibig sabihin, meron din silang mga kamag-anak dito," Mayor Gandamra added.

Recalling the time when Maute group sympathizers burned down building to create diversionary tactics for Hapilon.

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According to Mayor Gandamra, there were already reports of attempts of the Maute group entering Marawi City before the attacks in Marawi City.

"Before this incident took place, meron na po talagang reports that merong mga attempt na pumapasok itong grupo na ito. In fact before this incident, nagkaroon ng operation ang ating kasundaluhan and some barangays of Marawi City because of reports na merong mga sighting of Maute group," he said.

The Maute group along with Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon were in Marawi City to provoke authorities to launch an operation.

As of May 28 - Sunday, over 95 people killed during clashes. According to AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla that the military troops have killed 61 militants in total. Forty two of the killed militants were from the reports of the military troops while remaining nineteen were from the intel provided by witnesses near the areas of clashes.

Marawi City Mayor Gandamra chose to stay within the city while residents left for safety. The mayor said that since the first day until the fourth day of the crisis, he stayed not because he wasn't able to leave but because he fears that the terrorist group will try to infiltrate the city hall.  During a times of crisis, they are trying to defend the city hall from any attempts of infiltration. There were reports that the militants are going to forcibly access Marawi's city hall to raise their own flag in the hall.

"Since Day 1 po until at umabot po kami ng four days, hindi ho dahil hindi ako nakakalabas, kundi talagang deliberately, I stayed in the city hall dahil po ako'y nangangamba na mapasok nila ang city hall. So that talagang we defended the city hall during those times dahil meron pong mga attempts and may mga reports na talagang papasukin nila ang city hall ng Marawi City para lagyan nila ng bandila," he said.
"Tayo po ay hindi papayag diyan because ang city hall po ay simbolo ng sovereignty or authority of the government over this city," the mayor added.

He also stated that the government already knew that the Maute terrorist group are within the Marawi City and Lanao del Sur.

"That is a known fact and alam po 'yan ng ating pamahalaan at talaga pong merong mga Maute group dito sa Lanao del Sur at Marawi City. Kaya lang po before du'n sila naka-focus sa ibang lugar sa Lanao del Sur. Ngayon lang po sila nagparamdam ng matinding presensiya by of course creating trouble itong nangyayari," Gandamra stated.

"Those are possibilities dahil 'yan po ay naririnig natin na opinion sa mga individual at intelligence reports na ito po maaaring may posibilidad na ito ay influenced, politically motivated. But maybe hindi lang po ito ang dahilan. Kundi marami pong dahilan ang pangyayaring ito," he said.

"These are speculations and opinions, and the government should validate that speculations and of course may naririnig natin. Dahil napakaseryoso po 'yang allegations. Hindi po namamatay ang allegations na 'yun dahil matagal po nating naririnig na may connections sa sinasabi niyong pulitika," he said.

There have been speculations from different sources and people stating that the attacks were politically stimulated to create chaos within the country while President Duterte was in Russia.

Source: GMA