MANILA (Reuters) - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said a rebellion on the southern Mindanao island was not the work of rebels from the Maute group but was “purely ISIS”, and he had long warned of Islamic State’s imminent arrival in his country.
Duterte said Islamist militants being driven out of Iraq and Syria were looking for a new base and the siege of Marawi City was planned a long time ago.
He also reiterated that the radicals in the southern Philippines were getting funding from the illicit drugs trade, and said the Maute brothers, who the militant group is named after, were involved in narcotics.
Duterte, who has declared war on drugs, has long maintained that narcotics are at the heart of the country’s crime and security problems.
Reporting by Martin Petty and Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Robert Birsel