Search of Maguindanao town yields no terrorists

A search of the forested boundary of Buldon, Maguindanao and Mount Cararao near Lanao del Sur found no militants in the area. John Unson

Search of Maguindanao town yields no terrorists
John Unson (Philstar.com) - September 3, 2017 - 7:45am
MAGUINDANAO, Philippines — Authorities searched for Islamic militants along the boundary of Buldon town and Mount Cararao for 18 hours but found none.
 
The Buldon municipal police launched the search on Saturday after President Rodrigo Duterte announced in Davao City the possible spread of the conflict in Marawi City into the municipality due to the presence there of Maute terrorists.
 
"I was thinking that we could, you know, lift [the martial law in Mindanao] earlier but the way it looks, parang may spillover na sa ARMM eh, sa Buldon," he said last Friday before the Eastern Mindanao Command in Panacan, Davao City.
 
Iranun communities in Buldon, a hinterland town in the first district of Maguindanao, senior police and Army officials in the province told reporters on Sunday that they were surprised by Duterte’s pronouncement.
 
They urged the Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team and the joint ceasefire committee of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to help them prove there is not even a single Maute terrorist in the municipality.
 
The Malaysian-led peace-keeping contingent, comprised of soldiers from Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia and non-uniformed conflict resolution experts from Norway, Japan and the European Union, has been helping oversee since 2004 the enforcement of an interim ceasefire accord between the MILF and Malacañang.  
 
Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu told reporters on Sunday that he has tapped the Islamic religious sector in Buldon to help prove to the president that there are no Islamic State-inspired militants in the area.

'Mayor in full control of municipality'

He said the mayor of Buldon, Abolais Manalao, is in full control of the municipality.
 
“We respect and we do not begrudge President Duterte for having announced there are sightings of militants in Buldon. We take that pronouncement as a reminder for us to help him address terrorism and violent religious extremism in Mindanao,” Mangudadatu said.
 
Mangudadatu is chairman of the inter-agency provincial peace and order council, whose members include the 36-member league of mayors in Maguindanao.
 
The Army’s 6th Infantry Division announced on Saturday over radio stations in Cotabato City that there is no confirmed presence of any group in Buldon operating in the fashion of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
 
Members of the Buldon municipal peace and order council said it is impossible for them not to detect the presence of any militant group now that all “rido” (clan wars) in the town have been settled.
 
“All clans hostile to each other before are now cooperating in maintaining law and order in the municipality,” said Chief Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac, director of the Police Regional Office-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
 
The main headquarters of PRO-ARMM is in Camp Salipada K. Pendatun, less than 20 kilometers away from the town proper of Buldon.
 
Local MILF commanders told reporters on Sunday that there are Maute gunmen on high ground in Mount Cararao, but none in Buldon.
 
Mount Cararao is closer to Butig town in Lanao del Sur, where the Maute terror group first emerged in 2014.

No military reports of Maute militants in Buldon

Hundreds of Iranun villagers in Buldon, led by barangay captains, helped in Saturday’s search by the local police for militants at the border of Buldon and Mount Cararao but found none.
 
Senior Superintendent Agustin Tello, director of the Maguindanao provincial police, said personnel of the Buldon municipal police will conduct periodic searches in the area to prevent any incursion by Maute terrorists.
 
Maj. Gen. Arnel Dela Vega, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said the 37th Infantry Battalion, which covers all of the barangays in Buldon, has not reported anything about sightings of terrorists in the municipality.
 
On December 8 last year, MILF rebels led by Command Quiqada killed five Maute gunmen and wounded more than a dozen others for trying to bring into Buldon militants wounded in clashes with pursuing soldiers in Butig.
 
Butig, located in the first district of Lanao del Sur, is hometown of the siblings Omar and Abdullah Maute, founders of the Maute terror group.

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