Marawi evacuees to undergo probe

THE DAVAO City Police Office (DCPO) yesterday   said all evacuees from Marawi City who are now in the city will be subjected to investigation to ensure that there are no terrorists among them.

Around 20 individuals from Marawi arrived in the city last Saturday and staying in Barangay 23-C in the downtown area of Boulevard.

Sr. Insp. Maria Theresita Gaspan, spokesperson of the Davao City Police Office (DCPO), said some barangay officials have informed their respective police precinct commanders some evacuees lived with relatives in the area.

But Gaspan said they have to scrutinize the evacuees “so members of terrorist groups could not penetrate the city.”

“We are avoiding any spill over so we have to conduct the investigation together with the military,” Gaspan told reporters yesterday.

The Marawi clash, now on its eight days, claimed at least 113 persons – 61 militants (including six foreigners), 33 government forces (including 11 soldiers), and 19 civilians. At least 39 were wounded in the on-going battle.

President Rodrigo Duterte declared Martial Law in the evening of May 23, the day the crisis started.

The clashes began when authorities launched an offensive in Marawi to capture Isnilon Hapilon, leader of the Abu Sayyaf, after receiving reports that Hapilon was in the city to meet with members of the Maute group. A firefight erupted when Hapilon’s forces opened fire at the combined army and police teams and called for reinforcements from the Maute group, an armed group that has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and who are believed to be responsible for the 2016 Davao City bombing.

Sending aid

The city government here is considering sending aid to Marawi City.

Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, in an interview with reporters, said the city government is still identifying the kind of aid and whether it would be safe for any of the city personnel to be sent to the area.

“Security is still a concern,” Carpio said. “We’re still looking at it.”

The city government is regularly sending aid to areas affected by calamity or disaster.

During Typhoon Yolanda in 2013, for example, a composite team, with members from the City Health Office, Department of Health, Davao City Police Office, Task Force Davao, and Central 911, drove truckloads of aid to the hungry residents in the desolated area of Leyte hit by a storm surge that killed thousands.

However, it is not yet clear whether the same approach would be applied in sending aid to Marawi.

“We don’t want to bother our security forces with it,” said Carpio who added that they are discussing with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

However, she said that immediate aid such as medicine and food should be sent to the areas.

The city government is urging those who are willing to give donations and relief goods to the evacuees to course their donations to Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Atty. Raul Nadela Jr., Carpio’s chief of staff, said they encourage the sponsors to course the donations, including cash donations, to the DSWD for it to be centralized.

Accordingly, there are about 500 sacks of rice and boxes of canned goods worth P1 million expected to be sent as relief goods in Iligan City before the end of this week.

Intensify

Meanwhile, the DCPO is intensifying its operations in strategic areas following the series of attacks staged by the communist rebels in the city and nearby areas in the region.

Gaspan said they have deployed members of the City Public Safety Company (CPSC) to the police precincts in the remote districts of Marilog, Baguio and Paquibato

“The additional deployment of personnel will help them to conduct operation and monitor possible NPA atrocities,” she added. “We are also preempting diversionary attacks.

Posted in under_HEADLINES1