CAGAYAN de Oro City has been placed on full alert after the clash between government forces and members of the Maute group Tuesday afternoon, May 23.
Police Superintendent Lemuel Gonda, spokesperson of the Police Regional Office-Northern Mindanao, said heightened security measures include the setting up of more checkpoints in the entry and exit points of the city and its neighboring areas.
Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno said he spoke with Police Senior Superintendent Robert Roy Bahian, the city police director, Vice Mayor Raineir Joaquin Uy, and Councilor Romeo Calizo, the committee chair for police, fire, and public safety.
Moreno said he has directed Calizo to assist him in his duties as chairman of the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC), and said Calizo is already working closely with 4th Infantry Division officials to beef up the city’s security.
"I call upon our people to remain calm but at the same time be always vigilant and observant. I urge our barangay officials and leaders to closely oversee their respective barangays and to immediately report any unusual activities," Moreno said.
Cagayan de Oro City Police Office (Cocpo) spokesperson Mardy Hortillosa urged residents to report any incident to the nearest police station or contact their hotline number at 09364017888.
Misamis Oriental Governor Yevgeny Emano said security has also been tightened in Lugait town, the Misamis Oriental municipality which borders Lanao del Sur.
Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson Brigadier General Restituto Padilla said that the ongoing clash in Marawi City, Lanao Del Sur is aimed at neutralizing Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon who was spotted along with an estimated 15 followers in the area.
Hapilon is reportedly the representative of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (Isis) terror group in the Philippines.
Senior Superintendent Oscar Nantes, Lanao del Sur police provincial director, said the fighting erupted when the Maute group opened fire on personnel from the military’s 103rd Brigade around 2 p.m., Tuesday, in the villages of Caloocan and Basak Malutlut, near the Lanao del Sur police provincial command and Mindanao State University.
A college professor, who declined to be identified, of nearby Mindanao State University (MSU)-Marawi City said classes have been canceled as of 2 p.m.
He said they have not received directives from the MSU administration for emergency evacuation.
Students at MSU-Marawi campus are on their final exams.
The professor said teachers and students were seen running away from classrooms. (SunStar Philippines)