A battalion of troops will be redeployed to Basilan to fill in the security gaps in the province once the crisis in Marawi City is over, the Western Mindanao Command (WesMinCom) said on Wednesday.
The redeployment comes following the attack by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Basilan on Monday, which left seven civilians dead and 16 wounded.
“The redeployment of forces brought about by the war in Marawi caused the vacuum of personnel in the province after a battalion of soldiers were pulled out last June,” Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., commander for WestMinCom, said in a statement.
“The current security set up…is temporary. The moment fighting stops in Marawi, we will redeploy units back to [Basilan] to fill in the security gap,” said Galvez after he spoke with Gov. Jim Hataman and local officials over security issues in the province.
Galvez also noted the need to fortify defense capabilities in some areas “that are deemed most vulnerable,” and also called for the support of local chief executives in western Mindanao.
Galvez said these terrorist attacks, including those perpetrated by the Islamic State-inspired Maute and ASG extremists, were meant to “embarrass” government security forces.
“Basilan is a model for counter-terrorism. We also speak highly of the province and mention the same to local chief executives in Marawi City, but our enemy wants to embarrass us that is why they continue to do actions that will put us to shame,” he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in the whole island of Mindanao to help the military in suppressing Maute terrorists remaining in Marawi City and to avoid any spillover in other parts of Mindanao.
Despite this, Galvez said he would still want the local chief executives in Western Mindanao to be in-charge of their respective cities and towns.
“But to accomplish that, we need [everyone’s] commitment because, as local government officials, you know which mechanism will work in your respective areas,” he added.