Officials attend to Lanao Sur conflict-stricken villagers PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 31 May 2016 13:47

More than a thousand ethnic Maranaw villagers have been dislocated by the continuing skirmishes since last week in Butig, Lanao del Sur between soldiers and militant Moro extremists.

Reports obtained Monday from the office Lanao del Sur Gov. Mamintal Adiong Jr. in Marawi City indicated that residents of the conflict-stricken Barangays Coloyan, Samer, Bayabao, Raya Timbab, Sandab and Ragayan  have fled to safer areas for fear of getting caught in the crossfire, leaving behind their farm animals and other valuables.

There are stories spreading around since Saturday purporting that more than 20 from the military and the group of Abdullah Maute, leader of the jihadist group soldiers are trying to flush out of Butig, had perished in the ensuing firefights.

The Army’s 103rd Brigade here, which has jurisdiction over nearby Lanao del Sur towns, including Butig, has surprisingly been silent on the issue.

Soldiers drove away the all-Maranaw extremist faction, which Maute and his sibling, Omar, organized last year, from its main enclave in Barangay Poctan in Butig in February following an 11-day commando-style offensive.

Members of the outlawed group were again seen roaming in hinterlands in the municipality after the May 9 elections, waving black ISIS flags as they moved around.

Adiong, chairman of the Lanao del Sur provincial peace and order council, on Monday ordered his subordinate-social welfare officer, Maharlanny Alonto, to extend relief and rehabilitation services to Butig residents affected by the hostilities.

A total of 1,517 villagers affected by the firefights are now housed in makeshift relief sites in Butig’s adjoining Barangays Crossing Samer, Sandig and Malungon.

Provincial social welfare employees will start distributing food rations to evacuees today, May 31.

The newly-reelected Vice Regional Governor Haroun Al-Rashid Lucman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) said they will extend relief services to the evacuees within the week.

Lucman, himself an ethnic Maranaw from Bayang town in the second district of Lanao del Sur, said the ARMM’s Humanitarian Emergency Assistance and Response Team (HEART) will facilitate the relief works.

Senior HEART officials, operating under the direct supervision of ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman, met in Cotabato City on Monday afternoon to plan a relief operation in Butig.