Cops, soldiers secure Lanao del Sur town amid threats
ILIGAN CITY, Lanao del Norte, Philippines — Brig. Gen. Allan Nobleza, police director of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), has ordered the deployment of more policemen to Marogong town in Lanao del Sur on Monday amid threats of an attack by the Islamic State (IS)-linked Dawlah Islamiyah (DI).
Nobleza visited Marogong on Monday under heavy police escorts and held a consultative meeting with the town’s vice mayor, Haroun Marohom.
“We are here to address the security needs of Marogong town. The national government, especially the leadership of the Philippine National Police, is very much concerned about the security and safety of the people of Marogong, considering that the threat posed by the DI-MG (DI-Maute Group) in this municipality is very imminent,” Nobleza said in a statement on Monday.
“We have deployed additional troops to oversee the peace and order in the area,” Nobleza added.
His visit and the deployment of more police mobile forces units came after the IS-linked group led by Commander Zacariah, the alias of Fajarudin Pumbaya Pangalian, threatened to launch terror attacks in the town following the arrest of four DI members.
The group, on Friday, ordered the civilians to leave Marogong, which was announced using a two-way radio that was patched into the network of local UHF radio owners. As a result, about 2,000 individuals fled to nearby towns.
On Saturday evening, local authorities in Lanao del Sur counted over 200 families who fled Marogong town due to the threat of violence from DI leader Abu Zachariah.
The Philippine Army, on the other hand, continued to track and pursue the DI militants in the outskirts of Marogong town “to prevent them from terrorizing the local population,” according to Lt. Col. Filven Noche, civil-military operations chief of the Army’s 32nd Infantry Battalion.
Noche added that some 250 people who evacuated on Friday had returned to their homes on Sunday evening, ferried by 41 vehicles.
Both the police and the military said they would ensure the safety of civilians after the DI threatened to lay siege to the town, similar to what the Maute group did in Marawi City in 2017, when they stormed the city in May that year until they were expelled following five months of fierce battle.
Nobleza assured local officials and civilians the police were there to protect them.
“I came over to ensure and monitor the peace and security of the area and conducted a consultative meeting with local officials,” Nobleza said.
“We are here to address your security issues, we are securing Marogong,” Nobleza assured the town’s officials.