Suspected Maute sub-leader arrested in Tondo - NCRPO chief

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 4) — A suspected sub-leader of the terror group Maute was arrested in Tondo, Manila, National Capital Region Police Office chief Oscar Albayalde said Sunday.

Nasser Lomondot aka Muhammad Lomondot, who was arrested on Saturday, was involved in the attack of a Civilian Active Auxiliary Detachment in Marantao, Lanao Del Sur last year.

Police said Lomondot was involved in various killings, violence, hostage-takings, and in the planning of the Marawi siege.

He was arrested with fellow Maute member Rizasalam Lomondot.

Police recovered a hand grenade and a calibre .45 pistol from the suspects. They were charged for illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.

Philippine National Police chief Dir. Gen. Ronald Dela Rosa admitted their shortcoming as Lomondot managed to flee Mindanao through public transportation despite the martial law.

He added the arrested Maute sub-leader arrived in Manila sometime January this year.

"It appears na may pagkukulang kami. Well, accept namin yun na may pagkukulang kami kaya sila nakalabas sa Mindanao at nakapasok dito sa Metro Manila, but the most important thing is nahuli sila dito but continuous ang ating monitoring," Dela Rosa said in a press briefing Monday.

The Maute group, also known as Dawlah-Islamiyah, attempted a takeover of the city of Marawi in Lanao del Sur in May 2017. The siege prompted the declaration of martial law in Mindanao and resulted into a five-month long war with government forces.

The war resulted in ₱11.52 billion worth of damage, and claimed the lives of at least 165 government troops and 47 civilians. Hapilon and Maute brothers, Abdullah and Omar, were also killed in the skirmishes.

Security analyst Rommel Banlaoi said there is still a possibility that remnants of the Maute group and other terrorists may be recruiting members in Metro Manila and may be planning an attack.

"Some remnants of the Maute Group are just here to hide and evade arrest from authorities but some are also mounting violent attacks especially during important Christian events like Holy Week," Banlaoi said.

He added at least 23 armed groups in the country have pledged allegiance to ISIS.

Military said a certain Abu Dar is now leading the terror group and is currently based in Pagayawan, Lanao del Sur.

It added Abu Dar was a trusted man of Hapilon, and that he managed to escape the main battle area of Marawi carrying the cash and gold that they allegedly looted during the siege.