Lanao del Sur town residents return home as violence threat eases
ILIGAN CITY — Colonel Robert Daculan, Lanao del Sur police director, has assured residents of Marogong that government security forces are in control of the situation in the town amid a recent threat of violence by Islamic State-linked Dawlah Islamiyah (DI) militants.
Daculan said on Wednesday that the additional police personnel deployed to Marogong would stay there even as he also put the police stations in neighboring towns on heightened alert.
Daculan noted that some 80% of the residents who fled on Friday last week had returned.
Local authorities are also expecting the remaining evacuees to stream back to their homes and communities after the leader of DI supposedly vowed not to harm civilians.
An incident report on Monday prepared by Dr. Nasser Alimoda, Marogong municipal health officer, noted that DI leader Fajarudin Pumbaya Pangalian, alias Commander Zacariah, sent word through the two-way radio network urging residents to return to their homes “as he pledged not to involve the civilians and implying that there will be no war/battle happening soon.”
Alimoda cited village chief Alcair Halim Diator of Barangay Marogong Proper as saying the residents, apparently taking cue from Pangalian’s assurances, had started to return on Sunday.
The town’s residents started fleeing on Friday when Pangalian issued a threat of violence against the townsfolk after four of his men were arrested by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and turned over to the Army, including their seized firearms.
As translated from Maranao, Pangalian threatened to lay bombs on all passageways, be these for people, vehicles, and horses.
Alimoda said the town’s municipal disaster risk reduction and management office counted 3,500 families, or some 21,000 people, who fled their homes, about 70% of its population.
They took temporary shelter, mostly in the homes of relatives in Malabang, Picong, Balabagan, Binidayan, Bayang, and Lumbaca Unayan towns.
“Added to the fears and apprehension of those who stayed behind was the lack of supplies, particularly food items, as most of the (initial) evacuees were business people/vendors who brought along with them the merchandise,” Alimoda noted.
The police and Army had deployed additional forces in the town to guard against any sabotage activity of the DI.
Ryan D. Rosauro