Tubod, Lanao del Norte: The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has tighthened security measures on all boundaries in Iligan City and Lanao del Norte to avoid a repeat of the Marawi siege. This intervention was the unanimous recommendation of members of the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC)-Lanao del Norte who met recently.
Gov. Imelda Dimaporo, PPOC chairman, said she wants to ensure that the AFP and Philippine National Police (PNP) are on track to pre-empt any possible entry of armed groups out to sow terror in the province.
Dimaporo cited their traumatic experience when Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) members attacked the province in 2008, particularly the coastal towns of Kauswagan and Kolambugan, and invaded the municipal boundaries. The atrocity forced housands of residents to flee to the nearby cities of Ozamiz and Tangub while scores of residents were killed and houses and establishments looted.
“The boundaries are considered deathline during conflicts so we need to secure it first and foremost. A lot of the threats we are recieving now are through text and FB messages but [what is]most important is we need to work as one now. We need to secure our province and set aside political perceptions.” Dimaporo appealed.
Similarly, Malaysia has tightened its security for fear that Islamic State militants may escape the government offensive and slip into Sabah.
It also included Abu Sayyaf chief, local IS leader Isnilon Hapilon and Abdullah Maute on its wanted list along with other commanders Idang Susukan, Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, Majan Sahidjuan and Salvador Muktadil—all implicated in cross-border kidnappings over the years, according to the Malaysian newspaper The Star.
It said the tight security was ordered by the Eastern Sabah Security Command under Datuk Wan Abdul Bari Abdul Khalid, who also appealed to Malaysian citizens to stay vigilant and report suspicious persons to authorities.
No armed group
Meanwhile, Mayor Mighty Dimakuta of Tagoloan town denied reports that 300 armed men entered and stayed in his municipality as preparation to invade Iligan.
This, after Iligan City Information Officer Joe Pantoja mentioned in an interview aired recently on GMA-7’s “24 Oras,” that authorities in Iligan received an intelligence report saying that a suspected group from Marawi is temporarily staying in Tagoloan and ready to enter the city proper.
“I want to inform the general public that reports about armed group inside Tagoloan is just hearsay that caused panic to the public. It just added the feeling of animosity. When the Marawi siege started my stakeholders, including security forces, were on top of the situation,” Dimakuta said.
He added Tagoloan is in the boundary of Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur devided only by a river but pointed out that there is also a place of the same name in Lanao del Sur.
Tactical Sgt. Jesus Sedeco, platoon leader of 10th Infantry Battalion force assigned in the boundary of Lanao del Norte and Sur, confirmed no sightings of any armed group in the border of Nunungan town located within since they started their round-the-clock operation.
The mobile security forces are composed of 20 AFP members per troop, including members of Barangay Police who are natives of the place and much knowledgeable about the terrain.