AFP denies police report Malaysian is new leader of terrorists in Marawi
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) contradicted Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald Dela Rosa's statement that a Malaysian terrorist identified as Amin Baku is the next leader of the terrorist group and may have left the main battle area in Marawi.
“The AFP also denies that the remaining stragglers will be able to influence the overall security situation of the once besieged city,” Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla, AFP spokesman said yesterday.
“Contrary to recent pronouncements by some officials that it is now headed by a certain Amin Baco, the AFP strongly believes that the group is now leaderless and without direction,” he added.
Earlier Monday, Dela Rosa said Baku became the new leader of the remaining terrorist in Marawi after Isnilon Hapilon, the emir of ISIS in the country, was killed last month.
“We have received reports that the remaining group, it’s Amin Baku who assume as the new emir mostly likely on his way out, maybe he has escape but (its) unconfirmed,” Dela Rosa said.
“We have information that Amin Baku, a Malaysian terrorist has probably escaped,” he added.
In an ambush interview after the celebration of the 78th founding anniversary of the Department of National Defense (DND), Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Baku can be a leader of the terrorist group since their leaders were killed in previous military assaults.
But Lorenzana said he is not confirming the statement of Dela Rosa that Baku is now the terrorist leader.
“I’m just following the track that was stated by 'Bato' ( nickname of Dela Rosa). I said he (Baku) could be the leader because there is no other (terrorist) is much higher than him, but I’m not confirming that he is the leader,” he said.
Padilla said “Amin Baco is believed to have been among those killed in Marawi recently.”
“Baco's remains is now the subject of an ongoing aggressive search,” he said.
In another interview, Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., Western Mindanao Command chief mentioned that there were 12 bodies recovered in the main battle area of Marawi recently.
Galvez also expressed belief Baku and other remaining terrorist were among the recovered cadavers.
“Amin Baku he is now inside the main battle area and yesterday the ground commanders have reported to me that there are body counts there in the areas where they are hiding and we believe, hopefully it includes Amin Baku and Mahalam an Indonesian and the child of Isnilon, who is Abdullag Hapilon. We are looking for them,” he said.
“I gave the direction to our ground commanders that once we get Amin Baku we break the chain of the Maute ISIS and the Abu Sayyaf in Mindanao,” he added.
“We have some suspicion that they are already dead because based on the report there are eight body count inside and when the Scout Rangers and 55th IB made the clearing , there are more or less four additional (bodies) they get inside,” Galvez noted.
Padilla said the military forces are clearing the main battle area from the remaining terrorist in the city.
“The AFP following its successful combat operations in Marawi City is aggressively pursuing its clearing operations,” he said.
“Clearing operations are focused on the remaining areas of Marawi believed to hold terrorist stragglers fighting for survival and hiding it out in the hope of escaping the main battle area,” he added.
“General Rey Leonardo Guerrero, Chief of Staff, AFP assures the residents of Marawi that the AFP is doing its best to expedite the city's return to normalcy,” Padilla noted. Robina Asido/DMS