By Rappler’s Carmela Fonbuena
BUTIG, Lanao del Sur – Carmela Fonbuena: We are here at the municipal hall of Butig in Lanao Del Sur. Last week the Maute group occupied this abandoned municipal building and raised the black flag of the ISIS.The military has regained control of the building and brought the media to see the Philippine flag flying here again.
Army 103rd Brigade Commander Rosseler Murillo: They raised their flag. It is a symbol that they no longer want to be a part of our country. This is an insult to us because this is the territory of the Philippines and we should only be flying the Philippine flag here.
Carmela Fonbuena: But the military operations are not over. Canons were heard while the media were at the site.
Army 103rd Brigade Commander Rosseler Murillo: The situation is very fluid. They might be in the area today, but they may leave tomorrow or the next day. We are still chasing them. [Loud bang] That is ours… [Those are no longer tests, sir?] No. There are sightings. Every time we get confirmed reports, we address them.
Carmela Fonbuena: Inspired by ISIS, the Maute group also seeks to establish an Islamic caliphate in the Philippines. Here in Butig they occupied about 10 hectares of community. It was not easy to flush them out of the area.
Corporal Isidro Portillana: It was hard, ma’am. It took several days of firefights here before we were able to reach the town center. [Why is it hard to defeat the Maute group?] They have prepositioned in the area. They have a number of snipers and put in place several blockades to delay us.
Carmela Fonbuena: President Rodrigo Duterte wants to talk peace with the Maute group. He said there will be harsh consequences if they continue to sow terror.
(Article and Image from Rappler.com)