Leaked police memo alarms Lanao del Sur residents
ILIGAN CITY, Lanao del Norte — A leaked memorandum alerting police stations in Lanao del Sur towns and Marawi City about armed men roaming the province has stirred residents, prompting the police to issue a statement to calm them down.
The document, which circulated on social media, ordered all officers in charge of police stations to be on full alert, citing reports that about 200 armed men believed to be members of Dawlah Islamiya-Abu Sayyaf Group (DI-ASG) Maute group were seen in the towns of Madalum, Marantao and Piagapo.
According to the Nov. 6 memo signed by Lt. Col. Juanito Jamis, the operations officer of the provincial police, a composite of Tausug and Maranao-speaking members of DI-ASG were planning to conduct atrocities in Lanao del Sur and adjacent places. The memo was posted on social media reportedly without the approval of the Lanao del Sur police chief.
No indicators yet
This had caused anxiety among residents who have yet to recover from the five-month war between government troops and the Islamic State-inspired homegrown terror group in 2017.
Col. Rex Derilo, provincial police director, assured the public that there was no cause for panic, saying investigators were still validating the information.
“We still have no indicators of such mass(ing) of lawless elements, only raw information,” he said.
Derilo said the memo was intended for police ground units so they would intensify intelligence gathering efforts and implement public security measures.
He said the police did not want a repeat of what happened in Marawi in 2017, when intelligence reports about the presence of armed men in an apartment at Barangay Basak Malutlut were largely ignored.
The group was later known to have been led by the late Isnilon Hapilon, the ASG commander who planned the Marawi siege.
“We have to act on the information before it is too late,” Derilo said. “[T]hough [that information has] yet to be verified,” he added.
“I apologize for the unauthorized release of the [supposed to be internal] document, which had caused tremendous alarm to the general public,” he said.
—Divina M. Suson
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