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LGUs to help secure Mindanao

Local chief executives in Lanao del Sur have pledged to assist the Armed Forces of the Philippines to discuss security measures that local government units can apply to prevent a “spillover” of the war in Marawi City in their areas.

During their August 9 meeting,  high-ranking military officers led by Lt. Gen. Carlito G. Galvez Jr, commander of the Western Mindanao Command, met with 29 town officials at the Lanao del Sur Capitol to discuss preemptive security measures.

A local official of Kapatagan town recalled how alleged terrorists came to their place to recruit new members.

Photo by Provincial Crisis Management of Lanao del Sur

“You can create your inner defense, if you need it, we can provide you with training and support for security if you request for it,” he responded.

Galvez said that government forces would be deployed in their areas but urged the officials to support the fight.

“For now, help your security sector swiftly address the present problem in Marawi by guarding your respective areas,”Galvez said.

“Do not allow these terrorists to use your towns as recruitment areas and safe passage,” he also said.

“It would be best if you look after your lakes and your respective areas,” he added.

Dagalangit, an official from the town of Lumba-Bayabao, said their Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team (BPAT) established checkpoints along Lake Lanao. He also recommended a terrorist identification system and training for the team.

“We are preparing our constituents so that we will be able to make ourselves ready. We want our BPATs to be trained so that we can take appropriate actions when needed,” Dagalangit said.

Balindong Mayor Benjamin Bagul and Masiu Mayor Nasser Pangandaman shared during the discussion their respective towns’ system to identify local fishing boats.

Representatives from municipalities of Lanao del Sur. Photo by Provincial Crisis Management of Lanao del Sur

Bagul said 126 pump boats had been registered in their town while Pangandaman said fishermen who refused to be assigned a control number were held custody by the Masiu government.

Bagul also raised the concern by fishermen who are affected by the heightened alert.

“We are also affected by the tightening of security as fishing can no longer be done from 3am-5am but only at 6 am beyond,” he said.

Commander Galvez assured that the concern would be resolved and suggested that fishermen can serve as watchers in the area.

According to Galvez, the remaining Maute group members are on the verge of defeat with their supplies and equipment running out.

“We are nearing the end of this prolonged battle with the penetration of our troops into the main battle area, but we beseech your consideration and assistance. We believe that the top leaders are still in the battle area, but we do not discount the possibility of reinforcement and retreat,” he said.

He said local government units could further assist by preventing enemy reinforcements and recruitment.

“Make a stand against terrorism, and we will also make a stand for all of you,” he added.

Galvez and town officials agreed to meet every Wednesday to further discuss the issue.