MANILA, Philippines – National police chief Ronald dela Rosa on Tuesday, February 28, revealed that the Maute Group tried to assassinate him during a visit to Marawi City late January.
Speaking in Cavite before the National Police College (NPC)'s anniversary, Dela Rosa revealed that during his visit to Marawi City, members of the Maute Group had tried to first plant an improvised explosive device (IED) which was intercepted by the military.
Another member of the group was also supposed to assassinate him during his visit as guest of honor and speaker during the commencement exercises of his alma mater, Mindanao State University.
"Just yesterday, I received the tactical interrogation report," said Dela Rosa, who has been chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) since July 2016.
Dela Rosa said the day before he arrived, the IED was recovered by the military. The Maute Group also apparently attempted to steal a new vehicle that would've been used to carry out the mission.
But Iligan City police and Special Action Force operatives deployed to the area were able to catch the stolen vehicle, killing two of the thieves on the spot and killing another one later.
"Big-time na pala ako kasi ia-assassinate ako (because they're attempting to assassinate me)," quipped Dela Rosa, who had been the face of a popular but bloody war on drugs.
The Maute Group's plan failed, Dela Rosa said, because of the sheer amount of people – MSU graduates, among them – who constantly surrounded him.
Photos of Dela Rosa during the commencement exercises show him flanked by several policemen, including his close-in security team – as he marched on stage for the ceremonies.
Dela Rosa studied at MSU before he entered the Philippine Military Academy.
In early January 2017, the military vowed to crush the Maute Group and the Abu Sayyaf within 6 months.
Late 2016, the terrorist group occupied parts of Butig town in Lanao del Sur, prompting a military offensive and a forced evacuation of most of the town's 16,000 residents.
The Maute Group is a local terror group that pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. – Rappler.com