Welcome Arch in Marawi City (Divina R. Suson)

ILIGAN CITY —– The Provincial Police Office in Lanao del Sur (PPO LDS) urged the public to keep calm after an office memorandum circulated on social media puting police in the province on red alert following a sighting of armed men in three towns of the province.

The memorandum ordered all officers-in-charge of municipal police stations and the chief of police of Marawi to be on full alert after receiving information “from a reliable source that more or less 200 armed men believed to be members of Dawlah Islamiya-Abu Sayyaf Group (DI-ASG) Maute group were sighted consolidating in the areas of  Madalum, Marantao and Piagapo towns in Lanao del Sur.

The memorandum was dated November 6 and signed by Lt. Col. Juanito Jamis, the operations officer of PPO LDS.

“Said group were a composite of Tausug- and Maranao-speaking members and planning to conduct atrocities in the areas of Lanao del Sur and its adjacent places,” the memorandum said.

The memorandum, posted on social media without permission from the chief of LDS PPO, caused worries to residents of Marawi City and Lanao del Sur.

Col. Rex Derilo, chief of LDS police, said validation on the veracity of the information with other security forces and the intelligence community is underway.

“At this stage of the validation, wala naman kami nakuhang (we did not have) indicators of such mass up of lawless elements, only raw information,” Derilo said in a statement released to media Saturday evening (November 8).

Derilo said the memorandum intends to direct the ground units to intensify the intelligence efforts, implement target hardening measures, to make them vigilant and ensure the safety and security of the public.

He said the PNP does not want to repeat what happened in Marawi in 2017 where the presence of armed men gathering in an apartment in Barangay Basak Malutlut was ignored.

The group was later known to be led by the late Isnilon Hapilon, the ASG commander who planned the Marawi siege.

“We have to act on the information though it has yet to be verified before it is too late. On behalf of the PNP in this province, I express my apology that the unauthorized released of that document which is supposed to be internal has caused tremendous alarm to the general public,” Derilo said.

The unauthorized release of the memorandum is being investigated, he added.