Radyo Natin

Cotabato exec assures residents no Maute in the city

COTABATO — Local officials here have assured city residents that no Maute Group member has entered the city amid continuing hostilities in Marawi City.
Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi has dismissed as untrue the text messages circulating around that some Maute Group members, who are Maguindanaon and managed to escape Philippine military air and ground assaults in Marawi, have fled to this city.
Mobile phone and social media messages have been making the rounds that Maute Group members are in one of the city's poor villages, ready to strike anytime to divert government attention from Marawi.
"There is no truth to that message," Sayadi said in a news conference Friday night. "No Maute here, they are not welcome here. Our people will not allow them and there is no lockdown in the city," Sayadi said, referring to another message advising people to stay home at night because of the supposed lockdown.
The mayor assured that village watchmen, known as BPAT (Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team), will secure all communities.
"They are there wide awake while we are all asleep," she said of the more than 1,000 armed BPAT members in the city's 36 villages.
Sayadi directed them to report suspicious activities of suspicious individuals in their villages.
BPAT here are armed but are only allowed to carry guns within their respective communities.
City Police director, Senior Supt. Victor Valencia, said BPAT members are directly answerable to their village chairpersons, who are also accountable to the city police.
Valencia said the errors, violations and abuses committed by BPAT members would mean violations of village chairpersons.
"Walang ibang tutulong sa atin kundi tayo lang din upang ligtas ang ating mga kababayan (Nobody will help us in securing our people but ourselves)," Valencia said.
Cotabato City is only about four hours from Marawi City (157 km. by land) and the most likely refuge, next to Iligan City, of terrorists outside beleaguered Marawi City. Maguindanao came in third.
Lt. Col. James Uri, 5th Special Forces Battalion commander, however assured that the city is well-secured by the BPAT.
Two suspected Maute supporters, a recruiter and the recruited, were separately arrested by government forces last week.
The alleged recruiter, Nasser Dilangalen, is a city engineering office project foreman while his alleged recruit, Hassan Esmael, was a drug suspect nabbed during an anti-drug operation.
Esmael, who claimed he already got out of the Maute after his training in Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat, pointed at Dilangalen as the one who paid for his training and game money to his family for him to study the Qur'an in the hinterlands of Palimbang, where ISIS-inspired Ansar Al-Khilafa, an ally of Maute, was operating.
Mayor Sayadi, Supt. Valencia and Col. Uri vowed to secure the city and its residents "at all cost". (PNA)
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Last Modified: 2017-Dec-16 03.33.44 UTC+0800