THE Philippine National Police (PNP)-Northern Mindanao on Thursday, June 28, said it has continued to keep an eye on the situation in Lanao del Sur where fighting between government forces and extremist groups erupted recently, as the state security sector has been mobilized to prevent any spillover of violence to neighboring areas in the region.
“The PNP, in coordination with other government agencies, is monitoring and countermeasures are in place in case intervention will be necessitated,” said Superintendent Surki Sereñas, PNP-Northern Mindanao spokesperson, in a text message.
In the meantime, Sereñas said, PNP-Northern Mindanao is exerting its effort on “law enforcement and crime prevention through focused police operations such as beat patrol, checkpoints, and border security.”
The recent clashes in some of the towns in Lanao del Sur prompted about 11,000 civilians to flee their homes.
The fighting started when soldiers attacked a hideout of extremists hoping to catch Owayda Benito Marohomsar, alias Abu Dar, reported to be the leader of the Islamic State (IS) in Southeast Asia. About five members of the IS-linked Maute Group were killed, according to reports.
Lanao del Norte Governor Imelda Dimaporo, on her part, said she was worried that the fighting in the neighboring province might spill over to her area.
Dimaporo said she has been in constant meeting with the military since the fighting in Lanao del Sur started.
She said she has already requested an augmentation of troops to help secure the province, especially in towns that border Lanao del Sur.
“The military has assured me that there’s nothing yet to worry about, but, of course, I am not taking any chances,” Dimaporo told reporters during his recent visit here.
Manuel Orduña, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency-Northern Mindanao, in a forum, said the intelligence community in the region is working to assure that terrorist groups cannot carry out any attacks in Northern Mindanao, especially in the cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro.
He said some individuals suspected to have links with terrorist groups were arrested.
Orduña added Cagayan de Oro will still remain a target since the city is near Lanao del Sur.