Number of evacuees swells to 11,605

By Zea C. Capistrano and Ali G. Macabalang

Davao City – The continuing clashes between government forces and Islamic State (IS)-inspired Maute group in Lanao del Sur have brought the number of displaced residents to 11,605, the local disaster management council reported Wednesday.

Based on a report sent by Lanao del Sur Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, the number of affected families as of 11:36 a.m. yesterday was 2,325, corresponding to 11,605 individuals.

The total number includes 534 families or 2,670 individuals in evacuation centers, and 1,791 families or 8,935 individuals who have evacuated to the houses of their relatives.

The local government’s data also said there were 39 barangays currently hosting home-based evacuees.

Most of the evacuees were from Tubaran town where military said Abu Dar, who was also identified by the military as Owaida Benito Marohombasar and alleged to be the new emir of IS in Southeast Asia, was said to be standing his ground.

Tubaran’s four evacuation centers host 387 families or 1,935 individuals. There are also 336 families or 1,680 individuals categorized as home-based evacuees.

The fourth class municipality of Binidayan is hosting 591 families or 2,935 persons.

Pagayawan town has taken in 355 families or 630 individuals in five evacuation centers, and 229 families or 1,145 individuals who have evacuated to other homes.

On Tuesday, Lanao del Sur Governor Bejoria Soraya Alonto Adiong released a statement calling on her constituents to engage in a dialog with the elders to air out their issues and achieve a peaceful resolution.

“I fervently ask our children to dialog with us elders so we can help one another in bringing peace and progress in our province. Let us please take lesson from the painful experience in Marawi. Our city has been devastated, people became very miserable from displacement and loss of properties, and most of all, our faith got tainted,” the governor said.

She  also said the provincial government has advised the public to “remain calm and alert.”

“We also want to assure everyone that the provincial government is doing everything to provide relief and all the other needs of those affected,” Adiong said.  Adiong also hoped the armed conflict will not escalate to nearby municipalities.

The firefight that began six days ago escalated last Sunday. Abu Dar was tagged as one of the leaders of the Maute group in the five-month crisis in Marawi City.