Philippine residents fear retribution because of family name ‘Maute’

World Today

PHILIPPINES-UNREST-CONFLICT Smoke billows from burning buildings in Marawi on the southern island of Mindanao on June 18, 2017, after Philippine Airforce planes pounded Islamist militants’ positions. (AFP PHOTO / Ted ALJIBE)

After four weeks of fighting, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has said the battle for Marawi City is near its end.

CGTN’s Barnaby Lo spoke to a family whose fear has taken on a new level because their name. It has become synonymous with ISIL-inspired terror in the Philippines.

The family has mostly been holed up in their home since ISIL-allied militants seized parts of Marawi City in the Southern Philippines. They’re afraid, but their fear is coupled with anxiety because their last name: Maute.

One of the names that has risen to prominence in the battle for Marawi is Maute. It is the name of the relatively new terrorist band that forms a majority of the militants who took over Marawi City on May 23rd.

Maute is not only the name of the terrorist group, it is also a family name. The family members are locals and the even owned a store in the city. It was the store of the family matriarch, Farhana Maute.

Farhana, believed to have been a key source of funds of the Maute group, was arrested on June 9th. Her sons Omar and Abdullah, however, remain elusive. The pair were believed to have been radicalized when they studied in the Middle East. In 2014, photos of men pledging allegiance to ISIL in a mosque in Marawi emerged. The city’s takeover is their boldest attack yet, and they’re proving to be a formidable enemy. To be associated with them in any way is dangerous.

The family has been trying to get authorities to take them in for questioning in order to clear their names. The response so far has been muted. For now, they wave the white flag, hoping it’s enough to keep them out of trouble.