By Apipa P. Bagumbaran
 
MARANTAO, Lanao del Sur, July 5 (PIA) — Three towns in Lanao del Sur solidarily denounced the Dawlah Islamiyah-inspired local terrorist group (LTG) and other illegally-armed groups in their respective places.
 
Local chief executives and barangay leaders from the municipalities of Balindong, Piagapo and Marantao gathered in the former training ground of the DI-LTG in Marantao town, Wednesday, July 1, to condemn the atrocities of the LTG in the province.
 
Organized by the 82nd Infantry (Bantay Laya) Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, the mass condemnation was highlighted by the burning of three black flags to symbolize that the LTG is unwelcomed in the three municipalities.
 

Burning of three black flags highlights the local terrorist group (LTG) mass condemnation program to symbolize that the LTG is unwelcomed in the towns of Piagapo, Balindong, and Marantao, all in Lanao del Sur. (Angelo Dologmandin/PIA ICIC)

 
The barangay chairmen of the 109 villages in the three towns also presented their respective resolutions strongly opposing the entry and recruitment of LTG in their places.
 
“Yung pamamaraan kasi ng pagrecruit nila ay convincing kaya yung mga kabataang vulnerable ay madali nilang narerecruit (Their methods of recruiting are so convincing that is why they can easily recruit youth who are vulnerable),” said Piagapo vice mayor Ali Sumandar.
 
Sumandar added that the local government unit (LGU) of Piagapo will help in persuading LTG members to lay down their arms and go back into the folds of the law.
 
“We are urging them (LTG) to return to the folds of the law. The government and LGUs are ready to extend help to give them a chance to start anew with their families,” said Balindong town mayor Benjamin Bagul.
 
He said, as part of their stepped-up efforts to curb attempts of LTG recruitment among their constituents, he gave a marching order to his barangay chairmen to always monitor their respective barangays.
 
Bagul also vowed that they will further strengthen the provision of basic services to discourage their constituents from joining the LTG.
 
Meanwhile, 18 former LTG members who decided to return to the folds of the law also recounted their tragic experiences while in the hands of the group and shared what prompted them to withdraw their support to the LTG.
 
Marantao mayor Akira Alonto said LGU Marantao will assist the returnees through financial and livelihood support so that peace in their community will continue. He also expressed gratitude to the Philippine Army for facilitating the return of the former LTG members to the mainstream society. (APB/PIA ICIC)