BY LILIAN C. MELLEJOR
The brain behind the Maute group and three of his family members were arrested by the combined Task Force Davao and police under the Joint Task Force Haribon.
They were intercepted on board a black Toyota Grandia at the Sirawan checkpoint in Davao City Tuesday morning.
Cayamora Maute, whose face resembles the first photo in the gallery of Maute terrorists, is the patriarch of the Maute family and father of the Maute brothers Abdullah and Omar, who are now leading the battle with government troops in Marawi City.
This was confirmed by Brigadier General Gilbert Gapay, the deputy commander and designated spokesperson of Eastern Mindanao Command for Martial Law, in a press conference at Davao City Police Office (DCPO).
Cayamora was nabbed along with his second wife Kongan Alfonso-Maute, daughter Norjanna Balawag-Maute, son-in-law Bensarali Tingao, and van driver Aljon Salazar Esmael, who was released by authorities. Norjanna and Bensarali are husband and wife.
Authorities at the checkpoint suspected it was Cayamora concealing his identity by sporting a clean cut image (no more beard) and covering his body and face with malong, prompting them to hold the family for further verification.
When Cayamora was asked to remove the cover of his face, the soldier suspected him to be one of the persons in the gallery of the Maute terrorists. Posters of the Maute terrorists have been posted in all checkpoints, police and army vehicles since the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao.
Sirawan Detachment Commander Lt. Col. Nelson Mundia said Cayamora’s companions introduced themselves as Bensarali and Norjannah Tingao. Cayamora presented several IDs that all the more raised the suspicion of the authorities at the checkpoint.
Mundia said they were told by the family that Cayamora would undergo medical treatment in Davao City. Cayamora was lying on the seat at the back of the driver when authorities conducted search and check.
In an interview, the van driver Salazar said he was hired by Bensarali for their travel to Tagum in Davao del Norte for the medical check-up of two old persons.
He picked up Bensarali from Filipino Hotel, Cotabato City and proceeded towards Sultan Kudarat town. They were waiting along the highway in Barangay Simuay, Sultan Kudarat town when a D4D pick-up arrived with two elders on board and transferred to the van. They were later identified as Cayamora and Farhana.
Barangay Simuay is the crossroad to Marawi and to Davao.
However, upon reaching Amas, North Cotabato, Salazar said Bensarali told him they will get off in Davao City instead of Tagum.
In the investigation, Gapay said Cayamora presented several IDs but later on admitted he is Cayamora.
Authorities also confiscated PHP363,000 cash, the van, several ID cards, personal belongings and other pieces of evidence.
Gapay said Cayamora will be detained at the DCPO. Cayamora will be facing rebellion charges in connection to the ongoing Marawi incident.
“His arrest is a big blow to the Maute and ISIS because he is the patriarch of the Maute,” Gapay said.
During his younger days, Gapay said, Cayamor led the Maute group.
Police Regional Office (PRO) 11 Director Chief Superintendent Manuel Gaerlan said they have also copies of the four warrants of arrest against Cayamora for kidnapping (four counts, no bail) and serious detention issued by the Regional Trial Court in Lanao del Sur.
Gaerlan said Cayamora’s wife also has a standing warrant of arrest for illegal possession of firearms and blasting caps also issued by a court in Lanao del Sur.
Following the arrest of Cayamora and his family, DCPO Director Sr. Supt. Alexander Tagum said they will further step up their security in Davao City and DCPO.
He said they will also deploy more police and security troops within the vicinity of the police office. (PNA)