MIDSAYAP, North Cotabato -- Police and military personnel as well as police force multiplier have been placed on heightened alert here after reports have circulated that outlawed Moro bandits were poised to attack this town, a police official said Thursday.
Superintendent Gilbert Tuzon, Midsayap police chief, said the town's PNP personnel are backed by elements of the 40th Infantry Battalion in securing the periphery of the most progressive municipality in
North Cotabato’s first district.
Tuzon said police and soldiers, backed by Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team (BPAT) are already deployed in the villages near the boundary of
North Cotabato and Maguindanao
where the lawless group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) is based.
"We have experienced harassment in the past and lives and properties were lost. We are on triple red alert because of the report," Tuzon told reporters.
"We have received very reliable information and we are not taking chances," he said in a separate radio interview.
Midsayap has about seven villages situated in the borders with Datu Piang and Kabuntalan towns, both in Maguindanao.
"These areas are vulnerable to harassment like in the past, this time we are ready," Tuzon said, asking Midsayapenios to cooperate and help the police secure the town.
"Cooperate with law enforcers, be alert, report any suspicious persons or suspicious activities of persons not known to you in your community," the police chief said.
Midsayap was repeatedly attacked by armed groups, holding as hostages several persons in the past and subjected the town center in bombings.
With the history of previous attacks by armed groups from adjacent villages in Maguindanao, the police had learned its lesson that anytime lawless groups could strike.
With the holiday season around the corner, Midsayap’s economic activities have increased it being the center of commerce and trade in
area. PALMA stands for the
adjoining towns of Pigcawayan, Alamada, Libungan, Midsayap and Aleosan, all
belonging to the province’s first district. PALMA
According to Tuzon, police regularly conduct patrol around the town center with foot patrol accompanying mobile cars roaming around.
When asked whether a curfew needs to be imposed, Tuzon said it was no longer necessary at this time because there are enough police and military personnel securing the first class municipality.
"We can prevent the lawless group from terrorizing us if we all work together, cooperate with law enforcers and maintain communication networks," Tuzon said.
The report about impending attacks was circulated through text messages. Tuzon said it could be the work of pranksters but added that with or without the report the Midsayap PNP had increased its security preparations because of the yuletide season.
Midsayap Mayor Romeo Arania also directed all village officials to implement localized security measures to thwart any destabilization attempt.