By Mike Crismundo
Security measures of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) were heightened Wednesday following the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao Tuesday night by President Duterte.
All forces of the AFP and PNP in Mindanao, the country’s second largest island, have been placed on full alert after the clash between government forces and members of the Maute group Tuesday afternoon (May 23) where two Army soldiers and one policeman were killed and 12 other government soldiers were wounded.
However, government forces are already in “full control and have stabilized” the situation in Marawi City, field unit commanders of the AFP and PNP in Marawi, a component city of Lanao del Sur on Wednesday said.
Field commanders in that area said the Amai Pakpak Medical Center, the City Hall, the church, the city jail, the Ninoy Aquino School, the Dansalan College and the Mindanao State University, as well as the main street of Marawi city and the two main bridges leading to that city are all under government control.
Field unit commanders of the AFP and PNP said the operation in Marawi City was aimed at neutralizing the movement of Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon who was allegedly spotted along with his followers in the area.
Read more: Marawi stabilized, gov’t in full control
Hapilon is reportedly the representative of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror group in the Philippines. However, military and police commanders in the area clarified that the armed men they were dealing with were not members of ISIS but members of a local terrorist group.
More Philippine Army special forces and combat maneuvering troops from the 1st Infantry Division based in Zamboanga Peninsula were set to be deployed to beef up government security forces in Marawi City.
Meanwhile, regional, provincial and city mobile forces of the PNP and combat maneuvering troops of the AFP were set to join hands for the proper implementation of Martial Law.
Chief Supt. Rolando B. Felix, regional director of Northeastern Mindanao Police Regional Office 13 (PRO 13) said heightened security measures include the setting up of more checkpoints in the entry and exit points of the region.
“Security measures are also heightened in all vital installations, such as power, water and communications facilities, including sea and airports to avert saboteurs from any lawless elements,” the region’s police chief told The Manila Bulletin yesterday.
“I call upon the citizenry to remain calm but at the same time be always vigilant and observant. I also appeal to our local government unit leaders to closely oversee their respective localities and to immediately report any unusual activities or movements by any group or individual,” Chief Supt. Felix added.
Checkpoints have been established in all strategic areas including entry and exit points in this region’s premier and capital city of Butuan while checkpoints were also strengthened in the provincial borders of Regions 13, 10 and Xl.
Meanwhile, majority of the governors and mayors in Mindanao have expressed support for President Duterte’s declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao.
Read more: Mindanao under martial law
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