World Bulletin / News Desk
President Rodrigo Duterte has claimed that terrorist groups in the Philippines have resorted to illicit drug operations in order to finance their activities
In an interview with reporters in Manila on Thursday, Duterte said that authorities had found a link between drugs and terrorism and the ongoing threat is “being fed”.
"There seems to be a merger of identities between" drugs and ISIL-linked militant outfit the Maute Group, GMA news quoted Duterte as saying.
"There was already a connection, there was this big laboratory indeed for the drugs and it was a camp," he added, referring to a recent raid on a Maute area,
Earlier this month, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said they had evidence that members of the Maute Group were using drugs, which were discovered in hiding places in a town they siezed in November.
AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said the group may be using drugs to recruit younger members or to remain alert during military offensives.
"Maybe they are using that to recruit and stay in their line," Padilla told radio dzBB.
The Maute Group, also known as the Dawlah Islamiya, has boasted of an allegiance to ISIL and hoisted the black ISIL flag in Butig when it stormed villages and looted houses of residents in November.
As the military slowly retook control of the town, 63 militants died and 17 others were wounded, the remainder fleeing into the surrounding mountainous area.
The presence of such armed groups has prompted fears during a stalling of the peace process between the government and the MILF that ISIL could make inroads in a region torn by decades of armed conflict.