SECURITY forces conducting mopping-up operations in Marawi City on Sunday recovered around 11 kilograms of suspected shabu worth P55 million inside a fallen Maute stronghold giving rise to speculations that the so-called poor man’s cocaine being used by the terrorists to keep them awake in the fight against government forces since last May 23.
“Kahapon po (Linggo), matapos magkaroon ng masusing pag-clearing ang lahat ng units natin d’yan, nakakuha po tayo ng 11 kilos ng naka-pack na pinaghihinalaan nating shabu,” Armed Forces spokesperson Brigadier General Restituto Padilla told several radio interviews.
”Maaaring ito ang kanilang patuloy na ginagamit upang manatiling gising sa gabi at tuloy-tuloy pa rin na parang walang pagod,” Padilla said. The recovered pieces of drug evidence will be sent to the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory for examination and safekeeping.
President Duterte has maintained that drug money, not Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) funding from the Middle East, is financing terrorism activities in the Philippines.
There has been persistent information that drug lords have provided support to the Maute Group in exchange for protection. Last year, various drug paraphernalia were also recovered from a lair of Maute fighters in Butig, Lanao del Sur following days of heavy fighting.
Police and military officials said they are still on the look-out for at least 200 heavily-armed Maute members still holed up in Marawi City. After more than three weeks of fighting, security troops have killed around 250 of the gunmen and recovered nearly 300 high-powered firearms, explosives and ammunition in the city.
Padilla said that the gunmen already appears to be running out of bullet based on the frequency of their firing on troops. “Tipid na rin sila sa paggamit ng ammo,” he said. Soldiers and policemen have sealed off all entry and exit points in Marawi City to prevent the flow of fresh weapons, ammunition, food and water supplies to the ISIS-inspired terrorists.
According to President Duterte, Islamist militants being driven out of Iraq and Syria were looking for a new base and the siege of Marawi City was planned a long time ago.
The Chief Executive also reiterated that the radicals in Mindanao were getting funding from the illicit drugs trade and that the Maute brothers were involved in narcotics.
He said that the so-called ISIS did not have much support to local Islamist groups as the government was able to stanch the supply of money from the Middle East.