Lanao del Sur mayors to ask AFP to arm civilian volunteers, brgy. police

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(CNN Philippines, June 12) — Lanao del Sur mayors are looking to boost their local defenses amid fears the ongoing firefight in Marawi will spill-over to the rest of the province.

In a meeting attended by 24 of 39 mayors in Lanao del Sur, the province's mayors agreed to ask the military to arm civilian volunteers and barangay police in anticipation of possible terrorist attacks.

"Ang apprehension natin, baka pagkatapos nitong Marawi, pupunta sila sa mga munisipyo at dun naman sila gagawa ng mga bayolenteng gawain. We need to anticipate that situation," Dimnatang Pansar, Lanao del Sur Mayors League President said.

[Translation: Our apprehension is once this Marawi situation comes to an end, they'll go to the municipalities and wreak havoc there. We need to anticipate that situation.]

Mayors say they have yet to monitor local terrorist group members in their areas but they believe arming civilians is a way to protect their own territories and spare them from destruction like what happened to Marawi.

Marawi approaches its fourth week of fighting this week. The ongoing clash between government troops and the terror Maute forces has left almost 1,500 civilians trapped in the conflict zone and more than 200,000 displaced.

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In a press briefing in Cagayan de Oro Sunday, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he agrees with this suggestion but adds the military will have to fix the situation in Marawi first.

"Medyo magulo pa diyan [The situation's still a bit chaotic there]. If we'll be arming people there magkakagulo lang eh [things will get more chaotic]. So we are going to do these properly after this thing's through, matapos tong gulo gulo na to [after all this is over]," he said.

He added, volunteer civilians need to be properly trained and vetted to ensure they are not supporters of the Maute group.

"We're going to organize them properly, i-tratrain natin sila [We'll train them] We'll give them firearms to be controlled by the military but they'll be serving their towns and barangays. We have to vet the people that are coming in. Baka naman [It might happen that] we are giving arms to the supporters of the Maute," he said.

Four Maute members killed in ambush

Four alleged members of the terror Maute group were also killed Saturday evening after police transporting them from Marawi to Cagayan De Oro City were ambushed in Kalanganan, Pantar, Lanao Del Norte.

Alleged Maute members Salah Abbas, Allan Solaiman, Aliasgar Hadji Sulaiman, and Zulkifi Musa were fatally shot after unknown assailants fired at their police convoy at 7 p.m., also injuring three policemen.

The alleged Maute members were rushed to a hospital in Iligan City but died from their gunshot wounds.

The four were arrested last Friday with Maute Matriarch Ominta Romato Maute, also known as "Farhana," in a raid in Masiu, Lanao del Sur.

Farhana, who is the mother of Omar and Abdullah Maute, is said to be the adviser, financier and provider of the Maute brothers.

In the same press conference on Sunday, Lorenzana said Farhana's arrest would have a negative impact on the group, as she wields a strong influence on the Maute children.

"Her arrest dealt a severe blow on the terrorist support system and bears negatively on the disposition of the Mautes," he said.