By BITOON A RANAO
MARAWI CITY: On Tuesday, the military and local government officials of Madalum municipality in Lanao del Sur have extended assistance in an outreach program in two isolated villages identified as “vulnerable” to the threat of the Islamic State-inspired Dawlah Islamiya (DI) terror group, military said.
In a statement on Saturday, the Army’s 1st Infantry Division said Tuesday’s outreach was led by Col. Nolie Anquillano, deputy commander of the 103rd Infantry Brigade based in Marawi City, and Vice Mayor Sultan Usman Sarangani Sr. of Madalaum town.
They visited barangays Liangan Uno and Basak, two far-remote villages in Madalum, and delivered 20 sacks of fertilizer as initial support to both communities whose primary source of livelihood is agriculture..
The Army division said the two barangays have been identified as geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDA), making them priority areas for the “clearing and development” initiatives of the Philippine Army, particularly the 55th Infantry Battalion (IB).
It said the visit was a follow-up to the deployment of the Community Support Program (CSP) of the 55IB’s Alpha Company to protect the residents from terrorist threats and recruitment by resolving social issues, which are reportedly exploited by DI recruiters.
The outreach also aimed to assess the situation in the area to determine the necessary interventions and approaches to resolve existing issues, according to the 1ID.
Currently, 1ID CSP personnel from the 55IB’s Alpha Company, headed by 1Lt. Rodwin Biloza, are assisting the leaders of the two barangays to attain better governance.
It said Biloza’s team is also organizing the farmers and linking them to appropriate agencies so they could benefit from the agriculture-based programs of the government.
Sarangani encouraged the residents of the two villages to cooperate and support the CSP being conducted by the military in the area.
He also persuaded the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) members who reside in barangays Liangan Uno and Basak to support government initiatives for peace and development and abide by the normalization process being implemented by both the MILF and the government.
Earlier, the MILF said it has agreed to convince the DI members to return to the fold of the law and play their part in society as law-abiding citizens.
The agreement was reached during the meeting on Tuesday of Lt. Col. Franco Raphael Alano, 55IB commander, and Abdullah Macapaar, alias Commander Bravo, of the North-Western Mindanao Front – Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces – MILF (NWMF-BIAF-MILF), who is also a member of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
Johary Malindato and Saiba Ali, barangay chairpersons of Liangan Uno and Basak, respectively, thanked the military’s development initiatives in their communities and pledged their support and cooperation to the effort.
Anquillano persuaded the residents of the two barangays to cooperate with the CSP teams so that necessary government programs could be implemented soon.
He said the youth should be protected from terrorist recruitment and this can be addressed by education and “since education is free these days, there should be no excuse for illiteracy in their communities.” (With PNA)