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Maute group funded by illegal drugs – Duterte

MANILA, Philippines – President Duterte yesterday claimed that the Maute group, the armed rebels with alleged links to the terrorist Islamic State (IS), is involved in narcotics and being funded by the illegal drug trade.

“In Mindanao, the terrorism there is caused by the Maute. You better watch out for this. They are driven by shabu,” the President said in a speech during his visit to typhoon victims in Camarines Sur.

“So ang panggastos nila sa giyera (The money they use to finance their wars) was really producing shabu and throw it everywhere in the Philippines. That’s why we are in a bind,” he added.

Duterte said illegal drugs serve as “gasoline” of terrorism in Mindanao.

“Maute is IS. They have pledged allegiance to them. Matindi ang away diyan. (That conflict is serious) Pumasok pa itong isang problema sa droga (This was exacerbated by the problem of drugs),” the President said.

The Maute group consists of former members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. The IS-inspired militants occupied parts of Butig, Lanao del Sur last month, prompting security forces to launch offensives.

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Duterte lamented that drug lords have addicts at their mercy.

“Look, human rights (advocates), four million addicts spread all throughout the country. They (drug lords) turned their fellowmen into slaves. They are reduced to being slaves not to their fellowmen but to drugs. I cannot accept that. That’s my feud with human rights (advocates),” he said.

Duterte also took a potshot at critics who accuse him of extrajudicial killings, saying he has lost 88 uniformed men in anti-drug operations.

“You worry about how many were killed by the police and the military? Did I not lose soldiers and policemen? I lost 32 policemen. With the military, it’s about 56,” he said.

More than 6,000 suspected drug offenders have been killed since Duterte assumed office as president last June 30.

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