Terrorists use social media, cash to recruit civilians near Marawi

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Military verifying reports Maute ushering ‘elements’ inside Marawi
59 alleged members of the Maute group at the Department of Justice in this photo taken Aug. 13. -- PHILIPPINE STAR_MIGUEL DE GUZMAN

By Rosemarie A. Zamora

TERRORIST groups are using social media and financial incentives to recruit civilians in areas near Marawi even after the government has liberated the city, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said on Friday.

Prospective recruits include relatives of the terrorists themselves and members of the youth, who are located in municipalities in the immediate vicinity of Marawi, AFP Public Affairs Chief Edgard A. Arevalo said in Filipino. Marawi city was overrun by the terrorist Maute group in May but was later retaken by government forces.

“Young people are especially vulnerable because they are impressionable,” Mr. Arevalo said during the Bangon Marawi briefing in Malacañang.

To counter these moves, the military has held dialogues with the youth, including a youth leaders’ summit and an education tour of Muslim youth in Kuala Lumpur, he said.


“These activities are meant to help young people realize what extremism is and how recruitment is being done by these extremists,” the spokesperson said in Filipino. He also assured that the terrorist group will not cause any trouble again nor will it be able to expand its membership.

In a related development, poor families in Marawi will continue to receive cash until 2018 even if they are unable to comply with the special program’s requirements, the government said on Friday.

“Conditionalities [of the cash transfer program] have already been waived for the rest of 2018,” Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) officer-in-charge Undersecretary Emmanuel A. Leyco said during the Bangon Marawi briefing. “We have some 12,000 households who are members of our [program] and therefore, we’d like to make sure that the funds are delivered to them.”

As a result, program beneficiaries in Marawi will receive cash transfers “even if they are not attending schools or not going to health clinics, or not even attending the family development sessions.”

In November, the agency has suspended the requirements of the program — also known as the “Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino program” — for Marawi families until March 2018.

Families not covered by the program will be offered livelihood programs, Mr. Leyco said.

“DSWD will focus on…recovery and re-establishing the human infrastructure that was very much affected during the conflict in Marawi City,” he added.