Lanao del Sur

Hundreds evacuate in Lanao del Sur over Dawlah Islamiyah threat

Merlyn Manos

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Hundreds evacuate in Lanao del Sur over Dawlah Islamiyah threat

Evacuation in Marogong, Lanao del Sur on Saturday, May 27.

Photo courtesy of Shravya Dilausan

The evacuations come barely a week after the launch of Task Force Marawi – an inter-agency peacekeeping force – in the Muslim-majority capital city of Lanao del Sur

ILIGAN, Philippines – More than 200 families evacuated for fear of terrorist attacks in Marogong town, Lanao del Sur, on Saturday, May 27, a day after authorities captured four young suspected Dawlah Islamiyah members.

The evacuations came barely a week after the launch of Task Force Marawi – an inter-agency peacekeeping force – in the Muslim-majority capital city of Lanao del Sur.

The Lanao del Sur Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Offfice (PDRRMO) said at least 259 families fled their homes in Morogong and sought refuge in the towns of Binidayan, Balabagan, and Madalum alone as of Saturday night due to a Dawlah Islamiyah threat to launch attacks.

A still undetermined number of evacuees also fled to Tubaran, Bayang, Masiu, Malabang, Calanogas, Bacolod-Kalawi, Lumbatan, and Marawi City, the PDRRMO said.

Dawlah Islamiyah had threatened to carry out bombings and sow violence throughout Morogong following the May 26 capture of four of its young members – two of them minors – in the villages of Piangologan and Pabrika, Morogong, Lanao del Sur.

The group gave a three-day ultimatum for the release of the young men or else, with one “Commander Zacaria” telling villagers to bring their valuables because they might not be able to retrieve them after anticipated violence.

Authorities identified two of the suspects as Muhammad Nasif and Saidi Macadaag, both 18 years old. Two others were underage – one was just 14 years old and another was 16.

Nasif, according to the military, is one of the leaders of the Dawlah Islamiyah while Macadaag is a brother of a unt of the terrorist organization that had pledged allegiance to the ISIS terrorist network.

The suspects were captured with the help of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and handed over to military authorities.

Lanao del Sur police director Colonel Robert Daculan said they have deployed more troops to the Marogong area, but were having difficulties establishing communication channels in the outlying villages.

Lieutenant Colonel Edward Vetenio, the commander of the Army’s 32nd Infantry Battalion, said the situation was “under control” but did not elaborate further.

The tension gripping the Lanao del Sur town and the Saturday evacuations came days after the May 22 activation of the Marawi City government-funded Task Force Marawi.

The task force, headed by Lieutenant Colonel Jerome Redosendo, is composed of Lanao del Sur-based units of the military, police, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Bureau of Fire Protection, Land Transportation Office (LTO), City Social Welfare and Development Office, the local traffic management office, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team (BPAT), and the city government. 

Redosendo said the task force would unify the efforts to addressing concerns on terrorism, illegal drug trade and other crimes, and the volatile peace and order situation particularly in the capital city of Lanao del Sur.

He said the task force, specifically, would focus on the following:

  • election-related violence during election periods
  • the threat of terrorism by Dawlah Islamiyah-Lanao
  • prevalent clan feuds (rido)
  • prevalent illegal drug trade
  • ongoing recovery, rehabilitation, and construction of facilities as a result of the 2017 Marawi siege
  • the culture of lawlessness
  • road clearing operations
  • traffic management
  • apprehension of unregistered vehicles
  • management of solid waste materials

Redosendo is the concurrent commander of the 500th Engineer Battalion.

Marawi Mayor Majul Gandamra said the task force would complement ongoing efforts to rehabilitate Marawi which was brought to its knees during the five months of fighting between the Maute group-Dawlah Islamiyah fighting in 2017.

Task Force Marawi was created based on the City Council’s resolution earlier this year and a 1987 executive order issued by then-president Corazon Aquino that mandated local governments to initiate programs aimed to improve peace and order situations in their respective territories.

Major General Antonio Nafarrete, the commander of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division, regarded the activation of task force Marawi as a milestone in the city’s efforts towards security, peace, and tranquility in line with the government’s “whole-of-nation” approach. – with reports from Ferdinandh Cabrera /

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