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Maute brods’ father arrested

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DAVAO CITY – The 67-year-old father of Maute Group leaders Abdullah and Omar was arrested at a checkpoint in Sirawan, Toril yesterday along with his second wife, daughter and two companions.

Cayamora Maute, a former senior official of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), was on his way to the tightly-guarded city for a medical checkup when his group was stopped at the Task Force Davao checkpoint, according to police.

Also nabbed were Kongan Alfonso Balawag, the top leader’s second wife; Norjannah Balawag Maute and her alleged partner Benzarali Tingao; and the driver, Aljon Salazar Ismael.

In a press conference, Brig. Gen. Gilbert Gapay, martial law spokesmann for Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom), said Cayamora himself confirmed his identity.

They were on-board a black Toyota Grandia and were stopped at a checkpoint while on the way to Davao City.

During routine checkup, authorities found an aged man wrapped in a blanket that covered partially his face, and was lying on a passenger seat.

Gapay said they were alerted after the man bore resemblance to the Maute’s top leader upon verification.

He said the police immediately brought the suspects to the Davao City Police Office (DCPO) for investigation.

Police recovered from Cayamora several identifications (IDs) with different identities. He later confirmed his identity during interrogation.

Also recovered from the group were a .45 caliber firearm, a grenade, more than P300,000 cash and personal belongings
Cayamora will be charged with rebellion while Kongan will be charged with violation of Presidential Decree 1866, for illegal possession of blasting caps and triggering devices, according to Gapay.

Police Regional Office (PRO) 11 director Manuel Gaerlan said the arrest is a big blow to the Maute Group which is fighting government troops in Marawi.

He said there is also a standing warrant of arrest against 89 other Maute groups that included Cayamora for five counts of kidnapping and serious illegal detention in Lanao del Sur.

Gaerlan said they are checking information of alleged Maute members in the city.

“There are various information being confirmed. They are attempting to enter the city, as to the exact identifies we cannot ascertain it. We are assuming they have sympathizers here,” he said.

In an interview with reporters, driver Salazar denied involvement with the Maute.

He said he picked up Bensarali and his wife, Morjannah, at Hotel Filipino in Cotabato.

He said he was instructed by Bensarali, his college friend, that they would pick up passengers in Sultan Kudarat before they would head to Tagum City.

Upon reaching Sultan Kudarat, he said they picked up an unknown aged couple.

Salazar said that instead of Tagum City, he was told that they were going to Davao City. (ANTONIO COLINA)