It has been over four weeks since the Maute group invaded the Philippines and went on a rampage killing Christians. While the goal of the invasion was to establish an Islamic caliphate, there is speculation that the Maute militants are motivated by drugs more than radical ideology. The Maute group funds their operation through the sale of meth. Philippines’ Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said that the conflict “is related to President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs…because the pressure on the business front, the group has chosen to become ‘ISIS wannabes.’” Thus, it is possible that the Maute group is concealing their drug trade by claiming ISIS affiliation.
06/23/2017 The Philippines (Asean Today) – Christians in Marawi are now fearing for their lives as Maute militants went on a rampage killing non-Muslims in the southern Philippine city. The conflict in Marawi broke out on May 23 after attempts to capture Isnilon Hapilon, the former leader of Abu Sayyaf group who pledged loyalty to ISIS.
Christians face persecution in Marawi city
Three Christian civilians said they hid in a basement for weeks as the militants tore through the city. They fled on June 13 and were found wandering among the city’s ruins by the police.
The three men comprised a group of five labourers from Iligan city further up in the north. Their Muslim employer hid them in his basement, along with four other men and a pregnant woman. They survived on food that the owner left behind but planned their escape after the food eventually ran out. The pregnant woman and her husband stayed behind.
“We heard them (militants) shouting ‘Allahu akbar’ and asking neighbours about religion,” said house painter Ian Torres, 25, “We could only hear them. If they could not answer questions about Quran verses, gunfire immediately followed.”
It was also reported that Muslims helped Christian workers to escape by lending them their hijabs.
As of June 19, there are over 300 casualties from the conflict. This includes 242 terrorists, 3 policemen, and 56 military personnel killed in action. 26 civilians were also killed by terrorists.
Maute militants were former members of MILF
The southern Philippines has been plagued with a history of conflicts and vice rings. The area is an established base for Muslim separatist groups such as Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), as well as communists and criminals. The Maute group consists of former members of MILF.