MANILA The military is not dismissing the possibility of increased terrorist activity in Mindanao following reports that Maute Group sub-leader Abu Dar has taken over the leadership of the Islamic State in Southeast Asia.
This was disclosed by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Brig. Gen. Bienvenido Datuin during a press briefing in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City Tuesday.
"It may be possible, but we are, as I said, we are closely guarding, monitoring all the metropolis, the urban areas to make sure na hindi sila makakaporma (that they cannot penetrate) in so far as 'yung mga (the) terrorist activities (and) plans are concerned," he added.
Dar is said to have assumed command of the terror group in Southeast Asia following the death of Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon last Oct. 16 during military efforts to retake Marawi City from the hands of the Maute Group terrorists.
The Marawi siege started when the terrorists and their allies made a series of attacks against military, police, and civilian targets in Marawi last May 23.
But while the terrorists may have the resources and inclination to do so, Datuin said the AFP has the numbers to curb their activities.
"They have the resources and malaki rin talaga yung lugar natin (our area is huge) but we have the numbers in so far as the security sector is concerned so we try to contain that," he added.
And when asked on whether Dar is more violent than Hapilon, Datuin said that they are still trying to get more information about the former.
He added that Dar was one of the Maute Group members who managed to escape the military dragnet in Marawi City and is the one reportedly handling the organization's finances and recruitment.
As this develops, the AFP spokesperson said the military is keeping close and tight watch of all metropolis and urban areas following reports that terrorist groups are planning to stage attacks against four cities.
"Actually iba-iba eh ang lumalabas eh (the information coming out is varied), (may) four, six but these are all metropolis, urban areas so all the urban areas are under close watch from us right now so hindi lang yung apat siguro (maybe it's not just four)," he added.
Source: Philippine News Agency