A COUSIN of the Maute brothers who took over as the terrorist group’s financier was arrested in Cagayan de Oro City along with two other people.
Government agents arrested Monaliza Solaiman Romato, her husband Gazim Mantawazi Abdullah and Tahera Romato Taher inside a rented house in Barangay Macasandig at about 4:30 a.m. Wednesday.
“Monaliza Romato, alias Monay replaced her aunt [Ominta] Farhana Romato Maute, the matriarch of the Maute terrorist group clan [as the new financier] after she was arrested in Lanao del Sur,” Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said in a Palace news briefing.
The owner of the house, Irene Romato-Idris, was not at home when agents of the Martial Law Special Action Group raided it, though she was identified as a distant relative of Farhana.
Farhana, who was arrested last month, is mother to Maute group leaders Omarkhayam and Abdullah and was identified by authorities as her sons’ financiers.
Wednesday’s arrest was made by virtue of a search warrant issued by Judge Dennis Alcantar, the executive judge of Regional Trial Court Branch 18. Macasandig village councilors Mario Bolanio and Eric Waban acted as witnesses during the raid.
Seized from the raided house were four M203 grenades (40 millimeter high explosive), a blasting cap, a 9-volt battery with battery holder, a piece of C4 explosive, eight pieces of detonating cords, 19 100-watt incandescent bulbs, a jungle knife, and plastic bag and plastic bottle containing suspected ammonium nitrate.
Chief Insp. Mardy Hortillosa, spokesperson of the Cagayan de Oro City Police, said it was possible the seized items were used to make bombs.
Hortillosa said Idris has assumed the position of Farhana as the group’s financier when the latter was arrested as she was trying to escape in Lanao del Sur last month.
Hortillosa said Idris and the three suspects are also allegedly involved in the operations of the Maute group, according to Maute members who were arrested in Cagayan de Oro and Iloilo recently.
Mohammad Noaim Maute, alias Abu Jadid and Alfaiz Mamintal, believed to be a bomb expert. was arrested in a house he rented in Barangay Macasandig, on June 15.
Three other suspected members of the terrorist group were apprehended in Iloilo on June 18.
Hortillosa said the newly arrested suspects will be charged with rebellion and illegal possession of explosives. They are detained at the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group headquarters.
Based on the testimonies of several witnesses, Hortillosa said Monaliza and Tahera are involved in the intelligence gathering and acted as liaison officers for the terrorist group.
With the help of the Abu Sayyaf Group, Maute members have been battling government troops in Marawi City for more than a month now.
Maute has pledged allegiance to the Middle East-based terrorist organization Islamic State or Daesh. The local terrorist group is planning to control Mindanao and make it a province of the Islamic State. With PNA
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