Lanao del Sur top cop relieved of post

MANILA, Philippines – The provincial police chief of Lanao del Sur has been relieved, at least 3 high-ranking officials from the police force confirmed on Tuesday, June 6.

Senior Superintendent Oscar Nantes was relieved from his post following orders from the national headquarters based in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

Nantes was provincial police chief when local terror groups who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS) attempted to take over Marawi City, the capital of Lanao del Sur, on May 23. The attempted siege followed a "surgical operation" by military and police against Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, who is believed to have direct contact with ISIS.

Replacing Nantes as officer-in-charge is Superintendent Restituto Lacano.

"[Lacano] is only 'holdover' until  the regular [provincial director] arrives. And he's a very good 'holdover' at that," Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) regional director Chief Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac said in a text message. 

Martial law has been imposed in Mindanao since May 23, following the Marawi attack. President Rodrigo Duterte also suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus over the island, paving the way for warrantless arrests by military or police. 

Duterte cited the ISIS threat as among the reasons for his declaration. Police deployed to assist in Marawi operations – local police, public safety battalions from ARMM and nearby regions, and the Special Action Force – are under the operational control of the military in the area.

Martial law is in place for a maximum of 60 days, unless Duterte wants it extended and gets congressional approval. The Supreme Court may review the basis for the declaration if a petition is filed questioning it. (READ: Martial Law 101: Things you should know–