Bautista gave the go-ahead for the raid in Barangay Basak Malutlut on Tuesday afternoon. (READ: Isnilon Hapilon is target of military operation in Marawi)
"If we did not act, then he can go away. We've been looking for Hapilon for so many months. We have to value the informaton," said Bautista, himself a former Army commander in Basilan, Hapilon's base for a long time.
"I believe personally that information is credible. We had to act immedaitey and neutralize Hapilon," he added.
Botched raid and foiled plan
What happened next was beyond Bautista's expectations.
"We did not expect the outcome, the reactions," Bautista said, referring to how armed men took to the streets, springing out from nowhere and quickly taking strategic positions throughout the city.
"We did not expect also their sniping capabilty," said Bautista.
But the rapid-fire events also validated intelligence reports about a looming attack.
Bautista said he believes the raid "triggered the plan" of extremists to seize Marawi. It was executed prematurely, but obviously still very potent.
This makes the Marawi crisis both a botched military raid and a foiled terror plan.
Hapilon as 'emir' of ISIS
It was in January this year when Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana disclosed that Hapilon has successfully established "direct links" with ISIS.
Lorenzana's statement made some generals uneasy because they preferred dealing with the problem quietly.
They have received information that Hapilon's faction of the Abu Sayyaf had already linked up with Maute and other local terrorist groups that have pledged allegiance to ISIS.
According to military officers who have been watching the spread of ISIS ideology in the Philippines, the "unification" of forces is the 3rd of 4 stages that groups wishing to join ISIS' international network need to complete.
The 4th stage is establishing a wilayat, or a territory. Lorenzana said Hapilon was instructed to scout for a place where a caliphate could be established in Mindanao. (READ: Maute Group waves ISIS black flag on Marawi streets)
Bautista talked about Hapilon being the "emir" of ISIS in the country. His presence in Central Mindanao was taken by intelligence to mean that he had indeed joined forces with the Maute who had been trying to take Butig, Lanao del Sur.
Thus the military has intensified the hunt for him since.
Hapilon was supposedly severely wounded in an air strike in January, and was in fact presumed by some authorities to be dead.
But the military's intelligence network showed that he's very much alive, reappearing on Tuesday in Marawi City and in the middle of clashes.
As of Sunday, May 28, the military said 13 soldiers and 61 militants have been killed in Marawi. Almost all of the city residents have evacuated. Although crippled, the local government tries to function.
And the battle that has uprooted thousands of civilians continues to rage. – Rappler.com