Philippines: Mayor’s Brother Killed in Marawi Battle

Jeoffrey Maitem and Mark Navales
2017.09.22
Marawi, Philippines
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170922-PH-marawi-620.JPG A Philippine soldier patrols along a deserted street in Marawi, Sept. 16, 2017
Jeoffrey Maitem/BenarNews

Government security forces killed the brother of a southern Philippines town mayor during a battle with Islamic State-inspired (IS) militants in Marawi, officials said Friday.

Hattah Lantud, the brother of Mayor Lacson Lantud of nearby Pantao Ragat town, was among five militant fatalities on Sept. 15, although it took days for the military to confirm his identity.

“We only learned from Marawi community leaders that the slain militant was the brother of a town mayor,” said Brig. Gen. Melquiades Ordiales, commander of marine forces in the Marawi battle field.

Hattah Lantud’s body was recovered by soldiers who took photographs to show to local Muslim leaders and contacts who positively identified his remains.

The general said Hattah Lantud has been disowned by his relatives for joining the pro-IS Maute group. On May 23, the group joined forces with Abu Sayyaf Group members and Isnilon Hapilon, the acknowledged IS leader in the region to attack Marawi.

Educated militant

Hattah Lantud, a graduate of Philippine School of Business Administration (PSBA) in Manila, was a certified public accountant.

Zia Alonto Adiong, provincial crisis management committee spokesman, said officials were at a loss to explain why people are joining the rebellion.

“We really don’t what prompted them, but what we know the Maute group is using the narrative of social injustice,” Adiong said.

“We are given assurance by the military that this war is coming to an end. That is the hope and the prayers of people of the province,” he added.

Since the fighting began, 150 soldiers and police and 670 militants have been killed, according to government figures.

Nearing its end

In a visit to the front line Thursday, President Rodrigo Duterte said the battle was nearing its end, but said there would be no celebration once soldiers liberate Marawi.

The president said aside from terrorists, corrupt politicians in Mindanao were believed funding the rebellion. Last year, he said some politicians involved in illegal drug business were out to discredit his administration.

“Why was the Maute (group) and terrorists able to stockpile so much ordnance, bullets and improvised explosive devices,” Duterte said.

“The terrorists here are funding them, including politicians … including some in Central Mindanao,” he alleged without citing any proof.

Meanwhile, Duterte said the military was winding up its operation.

“I told the soldiers we will not have any celebration. After all have been said and done, we will just go out quietly. No one wins this war,” he said.

He said he would lift martial law in Mindanao only if he sees the region is safe and there is no spillover of violence.

Congress in July voted to extend until the end of the year Duterte’s martial law edict, to give him time to address the security threat.

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