CAGAYAN DE ORO (MindaNews / 28 May) — An estimated 2,000 residents of Marogong in Lanao del Sur fled their homes on Saturday, fearing their town would be attacked by the Islamic State-inspired Dawlah Islamiyah in retaliation for the arrest of four of its members last Friday.
Shaminoden Sambitory, Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officer, said the residents fled to the neighboring towns of Binidayan, Balabagan and Madalum late Saturday night following the arrest of the four suspects.
Sambitory said the fear that the armed group would attack Marogong town prompted the residents to seek refuge elsewhere. “That is our initial report and we are closely monitoring the situation in Marogong town. The officials are on alert status,” he said.
He said a total of 259 families or some 2,000 residents fled — 206 families to nearby Binidayan town, 45 families to Balabagan, and eight families to Madalum.
Maj. Gen. Antonio Nafarete, commanding general of the Army’s 1st Division, said the arrests came after a combat team saw the suspects who were allegedly waiting for their supporters to bring food and supplies in barangays Piangologan and Pabrika in Marogong town last Friday.
“The suspects were caught off guard by the quick raid by the combat patrol,” Nafarete said in a statement.
The military identified the suspects as Muhammad Nasif, 18; Saidi Macadaag, 18, and two minors.
Nafarete said the four are allegedly operating under Fajarudin Pumbaya Pagalian also known as Abu Zacharia, allegedly the new Emir of the Dawlah Islamiyah in the Philippines.
He said an M14 rifle, an M16A1 rifle, an R4 rifle, a Springfield rifle and a 40mm M203 grenade launcher, assorted ammunition were seized from the suspects.
In a press conference on April 2, 2023, Brig. Gen. Allan Nobleza, director of the Police Regional Office, announced that three alleged supporters of the Dawlah Islamiya were killed and seven others were arrested during a joint operation in Barangay Matampay 1 Dumarpa, Bubong, Lanao del Sur.
Lt. Col. Jamal Christopher Adiong, chief of the intelligence unit of the Lanao del Sur police, estimated the number of hardcore members of Dawlah Islamiya at 14, led by Zacharia and hiding in the mountains of Marogong, Lanao del Sur and neighboring areas.
The Islamic State-inspired Dawlah Islamiyah, also known as Maute Group, laid siege on the Islamic City of Marwai on May 23, 2017. It took the military five months to defeat the group led by the Maute brothers Omar and Abdullah and the alleged ISIS Emir in Southeast Asia, Isnilon Hapilon of the Abu Sayyaf Group. The Maute brothers and Hapilon were killed.
Then President Rodrigo Duterte declared Marawi “liberated from the terrorist influence” on 17 October 2017 while his Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana terminated all combat operations in Marawi on 23 October 2017, exactly five months from Day One of the siege. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)