by PNA and Antonio Colina
The Armed Forces yesterday appealed to netizens to stop circulating videos that may sow hatred among Christians and Muslims.
“May I appeal to our social media users and our netizens. There are videos circulating around regarding certain armed elements destroying a church. We have requested that this be pulled out because it may fan hatred. It may fan hate and it is intended by these militants to induce other Christian elements to fight against these armed elements or to sow hatred among Christians and Muslim,” AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr. said at a Palace briefing.
Padilla aired his appeal after a video was posted online showing Maute militants stomping and destroying religious images inside the St. Mary’s Cathedral in Marawi City before setting the church on fire.
“Please do not spread this. Let us not buy in into the plan of these terror groups to inflame the feelings of our other religions. This is not a religious war, this is a terror attack on the city of Marawi and we must be clear about it,” Padilla stressed.
Instead of circulating such materials, the AFP called on social media users and mainstream media to highlight the compassion shown by both Christians and Muslims at the height of the crisis.
“Right before us, in the last few days were clear examples of compassion, of help between Christians and Muslims, of assistance coming from all sectors. Many of our Muslim brothers are helping their Christian friends and many Christian friends are now helping their Muslim brothers in the same way that all these help have been coming along,” he said.
“And we are very happy that these are coming out to debunk all these claims and attempts to make this a religious war. These are the good stories and may we request the media to highlight more of these in order to prevent the attempts of this terrorist group to make this a religious war of sort which is not,” Padilla said.
EXPELLED BY MILF
Meanwhile, the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) confirmed that Cayamora Maute, 67-year-old patriarch of the Maute clan was expelled by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for grave misconduct.
Brig. Gen. Gilbert Gapay, martial law spokesperson for Eastmincom who served as brigade commander from 2014 to 2016 in Lanao del Sur surmised that Cayamora’s expulsion could have prompted him to form his own group, initially as a subgroup of the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) until its leader known as “Sanusi” was killed by the military in November, 2012 in Marawi City.
“After neutralization (Sanusi), the Maute Group laid low,” he added.
It was reportedly during this time that the Maute group served as private armies of some politicians to protect their political interests in Lanao del Sur and protectors of the drug lords.
“Kaya they were able to generate resources to further their terroristic activities,” he said,
Gapay said Cayamora, a Maranao, played an important role in the early years of the Maute Group, providing his sons “guidance and protection.”
“Considering in Maranao family, the patriarch is being looked up to as a leader when it comes to family matters,” he said.
“It took years before they can develop their terroristic capability, and all those formative years, they had their father to give them direction, guidance and influence on his sons of the family. It is because of this that Cayamora Maute has a great participation in the terrorist group,” he said.
But while he admits to be the father of Abdullah and Omar who have joined forces with Abu Sayyaf kidnap leader Isnilon Hapilon in the Marawi siege, Cayamora denied involvement with the militants. “Kapangalan lang (we only share the same surnames),” he told authorities.
A resident of Marawi where he reportedly owns a gun shop and a store selling construction supplies, Cayamora said he left Marawi Sunday at the height of the military offensive for Maguindanao.
It was not yet known how he escaped Marawi using what route until he reached Sultan Kudarat municipality where he and his third wife were picked up by his daughter and her partner for a trip to Tagum city. But the destination changed to Davao City where they were nabbed in a police checkpoint following a tip from an informant.
Malacañang lauded the arrest of Cayamora to help “break the cycle of lawlessness” and curb any future terror attacks.
Cayamora could not remember when he last saw his militant sons.
But when pressed by reporters if he wants members of the Maute Group to surrender, he said, “anong ibig sabihin ng sumuko? (What do you mean by surrender?)”
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