ILIGAN City has intensified security measures as massive recruitment of armed men believed to be New People’s Army (NPA) rebels were reported in the mountain villages.
Jo Pantoja, city information officer, told The Manila Times that while the measures to counter the alleged Islamic State (IS)-inspired Maute recruitment had been heightened, the concern was more on the NPA rebels who were reportedly conducting similar activity in the hinterlands.
Some 148 individuals were evacuated from the mountain villages of Rogongon and Mainit to safer grounds as the military and police launched pursuit operations against the communist rebels who killed a soldier and wounded another last Sunday.
The hinterland village of Rogongon is located in the tri-boundaries of Iligan City–Bukidnon–Lanao Del Sur while Mainit is on the border of Iligan City and Misamis Oriental.
Killed was Philippine Army T/Sgt. Edgar Andal while wounded was Corporal Reymart Pamplona who were ambushed at a rebel checkpoint in Mainit town.
Another group of communist rebels abducted Police Officers 2 John Paul Doberte and Alfredo Degamon Jr. while guarding their post in Placer town in Surigao del Norte last Monday.
The fate of the policemen remains unknown.
Aside from the reported incident in Mainit and Rogongon, Iligan City remains peaceful as the military and police continue to monitor and track down traces of the Maute-IS terrorists who fled from Marawi City.
Marawi City is 35 kilometers southwest of Iligan City, where fighting between the terrorists and government forces ensued in May 25 after the group led by the Maute brothers and Isnilon Hapilon, alleged IS “emir” in Southeast Asia, tried to establish a caliphate in the Islamic city.
Apprehension about possible retaliation by the vanquished terrorist group in the neighboring provinces and cities in Mindanao was exacerbated after alleged massive recruitment of the IS-Maute remnants.