MANILA, Philippines – The regional police chief of the Davao Region on Tuesday, June 6, called on the Maute brothers – founders of a local terror group – to "take care" of their hostages, especially now that their father is in police custody.
Chief Superintendent Manuel Gaerlan made the statement in a press conference in Davao City on Thursday, June 6, hours after cops and soldiers arrested Cayamora Maute, father of Abdullah and Omar Maute, at a checkpoint in Toril, Davao City.
"They now see their patriarch and they are holding hostages. I want to tell them, alagaan ninyo ang mga (take care of your) hostages and we will also take care of [your patriarch]," said Gaerlan.
Cayamora, the patriarch of the Maute clan, was inside a van along with 3 relatives and a driver, when officials apprehended them. Police and military officials in Davao City said the van caught the attention of those manning the checkpoint because Cayamora had apparently tried to cover his face when they drove nearer.
The Maute clan head is part of wanted posters prepared by police in connection with an ongoing operation against local terror groups – one of them the Maute Group – that attempted to take control of Marawi City. Both the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups are said to have pledged loyalty to the international terror group Islamic State (ISIS).
Also arrested was Norjannah Balawag Maute, identified as Cayamora's daughter, and her husband, Benzarali Tingao. Kongan Alfonso Balawag, whom police said is Cayamora's wife, was also apprehended and is in the custody of Davao City Police.
The 5 were apparently trying to seek medical treatment for Cayamora, a claim police will have to validate. Gaerlan said they will also be checking if Maute relatives were living in Davao City.
The Philippine government considers Cayamora Maute's arrest as a blow to the Maute Group.
As a result of the Marawi City siege, President Rodrigo Duterte placed the entire Mindanao island under martial law. He also suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, allowing police and military to conduct warrantless arrests.
The Marawi crisis and martial law also prompted security measures in Davao City, hometown of the President, to heighten even more.
Although police are still validating Cayamora's identity, the old man himself admitted as much. Initially, however, he tried to present a fake ID.