BY ROGER M. BALANZA
The informant or informants that could provide information leading to the capture, dead or alive, of Isnilon Hapilon could end up as rich bounty hunters with the prize on the head of the Philippines’ Most Wanted terrorist now raised to a whopping P267.5 million.
President Rodrigo Duterte has placed an additional reward of P10 million on Hapilon’s head to further balloon the bounty earlier offered by the United States and Philippine authorities.
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has a standing prize of $5 million (roughly P250 million) on Hapilon; the Philippine government, before President Duterte, had offered P7.5 million.
President Duterte has placed a total reward of P20 million for the capture, dead or alive, of terrorists Isnilon Hapilon and the Maute brothers.
Hapilon’s head is worth P10 million and P5 million each for the Maute brothers, Abdullah and Omar, said Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Eduardo Año on Monday, June 5.
Hapilon is the leader of the Abu Sayyaf Group and the Southeast Asian cell of the Islamic State of Iran and Iraq (ISIS). The Abu Sayyaf, declared as an international terrorist group by the US and the European Union, has gained worldwide notoriety for its kidnapping and beheading of foreign hostages.
The Maute brothers are the founders of the Maute Group that is also linked to the Middle East-based ISIS, today considered as the most violent terrorist group.
Hapilon and the Maute brothers and their groups were behind the surprise attack and and occupation of Marawi City on May 22.
The attack prompted President Duterte to declare Martial Law in Mindanao.
The military on May 23 using land troops and air power started engaging the marauders in firefights that led to mass exodus of residents avoiding being caught in the crossfire of the battle.
Fierce fighting is on its 15th day as of today June 6, as government troops ferret out remaining terrorists holed out in buildings.
Military said only about 30 percent of the capital city of Lanao del Sur in western Mindanao is under control of the Moro militants.
The military said 120 terrorists have been killed since the fighting started. The government suffered 38 dead casualties. Nineteen civilians were killed either caught in the crossfire or shot dead by the militants.