LANAO DEL SUR - “We will never stop or even delay pursuing them. The only option they have is to surrender; otherwise, they will be slain and destroyed in our series of military operations.”
This was the strongest warning made by Lieutenant Colonel Fernando Payapaya, commanding officer of the 51st Infantry Battalion based in this province.
Payapaya and his men were among the highly-trained combat operation warriors in the hunt of the remnants of the Maute Brothers who were killed in their failed attempt to get Marawi City under their command and control.
The failed attempt of said terrorist group supported by Dawlah Islamiyah was also due to strong resistance of the Duterte administration's high morale Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the PNP organization.
On August 21, Colonel Payapaya and his men encountered more than 30 members of Dawlah Islamiyah-Maute Group (DI-MG) in a 3-hour exchange of bullets in the mountains between Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte. The DI-MG was a splinter group, who were remnants of the killed Maute brothers, hiding in Lanao provinces.
During said encounter, the military has reported no casualty on the government side. The rebel group retreated to the outskirts of Lanao provinces as the ground troops were also supported by their air artillery and fighter planes of the Philippine Air Force.
Brig. Gen. Jose Maria Cuerpo, 103rd Infantry Brigade and JTG HARIBON commander added that the highly-trained and special forces of the 51st Infantry Battalion have also encountered the terror group on August 15th led by a certain Abubakar aka Abu Zacaria.
“We have received reports from the residents on the presence of the armed group, and the military units operating within the area responded quickly to the reports,” Gen. Cuerpo reported.
Meanwhile, Major General Gene M. Ponio, the 1ID and JTF ZAMPELAN commander, challenged and urged the people to report to the police or military any suspicious-looking people that may only disrupt the peace and prosperity in their respective barangays.
the public that we will respond to their call 24/7 to secure and protect them from any threats and to sustain the peace and progress in our area of responsibility,” Ponio concluded.