Airport authorities report that seven passengers bound for Malaysia were detained at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on 10 July 2017, under suspicion of links with the ISIS-sympathizing Maute Group responsible for the ongoing Marawi Siege.
The seven people were identified as Mawiyag Cota, Acmali Mawiyag, Abdulcahar Maute, Al Nizar Maute, Abdulrahman Maute, Yasser Maute, and Ashary Maute, based on their tickets. They were supposed to board flight 5J 499 of Cebu Pacific, headed to Malaysia.
A spokesperson for the Bureau of Immigration said that three of the intercepted passengers—Mawiyag Cota, Acmali Mawiyag and Abdulcahar Maute—were released after finding out that they do not have derogatory records. They had been interviewed by members of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
The remaining four suspects have been turned over to the Philippine National Police Aviation Security Group and the National Bureau of Investigation for further probe and verification on their identity. Of the seven suspects, only Abdulrahman Maute had a similar name on the arrest orders: Abdulrahman Romato Maute alias Damam.
Armed Forces of the Philippines Public Affairs Office Chief Col. Edgard Arevalo said that although they are yet to receive a formal report regarding the incident, it had been part of protocol for the AFP to provide airport authorities with dossiers on persons of interest: “Merong coordination with them na nagpu-provide ang AFP sa kanila ng mga pangalan, pictures ng mga persons of interest. Base sa binibigay na list, kapag may nakikita at may nagma-match, it is part of their mandate or hold that person for further interview.”