MANILA — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has assured that all areas under the Eastern Mindanao Command (EMC) remain safe from any diversionary retaliatory attack by local terrorist groups as martial law in the region entered its 38th day.
“After 38 days of martial law, the EMC under the leadership of Lt. Gen. (Leonardo) Guerrero, who is also the Martial Implementor in EMC, has continuously prevented the spillover and spread of the Marawi crisis in its AOR (area-of-operations),” spokesperson of the EMC martial law implementor, Brig. Gen. Gilbert Gapay, said in a statement Friday.
The conflict in Marawi City began when government security forces attempted to arrest Abu Sayyaf Group leader Isnilon Hapilon, tagged as the ISIS “Emir” in Southeast Asia, last May 23.
An estimated 303 Maute Group terrorists have so far been killed, along with 82 soldiers and police officers and 44 civilians, in the clashes that have entered the seventh week.
Gapay said the EMC has shielded Eastern Mindanao by preventing terrorists from leaking into the area.
“So far, EMC remains generally peaceful, safe and secure. This is largely attributed to the tighter security measures being implemented by the Command. As of today (Friday), 17,494 checkpoint operations have been conducted, wherein the EMC has apprehended 31 violators, and confiscated 15 firearms and 11 illegal drugs,” he said.
Curfews have been imposed in 129 cities and municipalities in coordination with local government units.
Some 1,742 security/vicinity patrols have also been made to secure vital installations, critical infrastructure and places of convergence, such as churches, malls and mosques, Gapay said.
This is complemented by 54 maritime patrols as part of maritime law enforcement operations and intelligence coverage of threat groups.
“Likewise, the Martial Law Special Action Group has been activated to effect arrest included in the arrest order issued by the Martial Law Administrator. As of today, 16 terrorist supporters have already been arrested in Davao City, Cagayan de Oro City and General Santos City, and more than 5,900 community information collection networks have been established,” he said. Priam Nepomuceno/PNA-northboundasia.com