By Claire Gigje
PIAGAPO, Lanao del Sur –The 51st Infantry Battalion (IB) has declared that as of press time, there are no more threat groups present in their area of jurisdiction.
Battalion commanding officer LtCol. Fernando Payapaya emphasized that they can tell this as a current fact considering that most wanted leaders of the Dawlah Islamiya – Maute Group (DI-MG) once lurking in their territory, including its sub-leader alias Liya, have already surrendered to the authorities.
Additionally, he shared that the surrender of the group’s two members and 49 supporters Monday, April 11, has also contributed significantly to the record as it is deemed that once target residents are neutralized, there is no way that the group can return to the area.
“Kung sakali man na uusbong muli ang grupo na iyon kasi hindi naman tayo stagnant at nag-eevolve ang threat situation ng area. Maya’t maya may susulpot at lalabas na threat group na naman, hindi natin masasabi. Pero sa ngayon, talagang masasabi namin na with the mass surrender ng supporters, wala ng threat groups present sa area ng 51st IB. Masisigurado namin iyan,” said Payapaya.
[In case that group sprouts again because we are not stagnant and the threat situation of the area is evolving. From time to time, another threat group will appear, we can’t tell. But as of now, we can really say that with the mass surrender of supporters, there are no threat groups present in the area of the 51st IB. We can make sure of that.]
With the clean log now of the army, the battalion commander firmly urged the public to help in maintaining the peace by not getting themselves affiliated with the DI-MG.
“Sana huwag na nating bigyan kalayaan pa na umusbong ang DI-MG sa area natin dahil babalik at babalik na naman tayo sa time na gugulo iyong area natin. Sa ngayon, natatamasa na natin ang katahimikan at kapayapaan, at walang gulo at nananakot na kung hindi susunod sa grupo, tatakutin at papatayin. Nawa’y imaintain natin ito na hindi na papasukin [ang] kung mayroon mang babalik,” he said.
I hope we don’t give DI-MG more freedom to grow in our area because this will make us return to the time when there would be conflict in our area. Currently, we enjoy calm and peace, and there is no chaos and intimidation that if we do not follow a group, we will be intimidated and killed. May we keep it that [the group] will not be allowed to enter again they return.]
Payapaya conveyed that he is aware that the residents worry about repercussions when they go against the extremists. As such, he called for the continuous cooperation of the civilians and the 51st IB with the latter’s guarantee of a speedy response to relevant concerns. (PIA-Lanao del Sur)