MARAWI CITY, Philippines – In the midst of the continued threats posed by local terrorists, local chief executives in Lanao del Sur want to fortify the security of their respective towns through the formation of local defense forces.
In a press briefing on Saturday afternoon, June 17, Provincial Crisis Management Committee spokesperson Zia Alonto Adiong told reporters that Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Governor Mujiv Hataman already discussed the matter when he met the mayors of the province on Saturday morning.
“They discussed the strengthening of the civilian defense security plan in order to mobilize civilian force, particularly the BPAT (Barangay Police Auxiliary Team) and the CAFGU (Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit) as first line of defense and security in their areas for a possible attack by the ISIS-claimed local militant group,” Adiong said.
The plan will also allow mayors to create pro-active plans and be ready for threats and possible attacks by the Maute Group.
The plan, Adiong emphasized, is now being coordinated with the military in Lanao del Sur.
“We need to put them (the local defense group) into an established system, an agency or authority where it will be easier for them to be decommissioned once the problem has been settled,” he said.
The local defense group will be provided with the needed equipment by the government, Adiong added.
The spokesperson is not discounting the possibility of attacks by the Maute Group into other towns and communities in Lanao del Sur.
“We are dealing with an ISIS-linked local organization and militant group. We are dealing here with extremism and radicalism. Terrorism knows no boundaries and we know how this group operates. They have been attacking several towns before they attacked Marawi City,” he said.
Adiong also told reporters of the increasing apprehensions of mayors in other towns in Lanao del Sur on the matter.
“If we don’t arm them there’s a possibility that this local militant group will create a diversionary tactic to decongest Marawi City and attack other towns in Lanao del Sur,” he said.
The local officials are now waiting for the decision of the leadership of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police to move on to the plan, Adiong said.
The continuing military operation against the ISIS-linked Maute group is running for more than three weeks.
More than 200,000 civilians are already displaced due to the continuing crisis in Marawi.
While the firefight continues, a number of civilians are still trapped in the remaining areas controlled by the militants.
The provincial crisis committee estimates 300 to 500 civilians are still trapped in areas that are still controlled by the militants, Adiong said.
On Friday, June 16, nine more civilians were rescued from areas that the committee considered as hostile.
A total of 908 civilians were already rescued since May 28, Adiong said. (davaotoday.com)