As government security forces continue their operations in Marawi City in Lanao Del Sur determined to finish Abu Sayyaf leader and alleged ISIS representative Isnilon Hapilon and his cohorts, the military has issued an appeal to the public to “refrain” from posting information on social media that would just aggravate the situation in the area.
In a GMA News report, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief , said in a statement on Tuesday night: “We fervently urge our people to refrain from posting in social media information that would tend to exacerbate the situation. Especially photos and videos on the movements of our troops and on terrorist propaganda circulating through social media.”
There are photos and videos circulating over social media on the supposed status of the area following atrocities committed by Maute terrorist group.
“Please do not believe propaganda from other groups. We will continue to provide updates as often as possible with due regard to the security of our operating forces and the conduct of the operations itself,” he added.
Arevalo noted that the “sporadic firefights heard were harassment actions by terrorist sympathizers that were conducted as diversionary tactics to divide the attention of the reinforcing AFP personnel.”
Arevalo also assured the public that the situation in Marawi City has been stabilized; noting that there were no foreign terrorists involved in the gunfights.
“Security forces are in full control of the situation. The armed men we are dealing with are not ISIS but local terrorist group. The news being circulated by these terrorists and their sympathizers are spurious and are meant to spread lies and disinformation,” Arevalo said.
Arevalo also dismissed the “eyewitness account” that the Amai Pakpak Hospital was occupied and that there were people held hostage. He added that the Marawi City Hall was not occupied by armed groups.
Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) on Tuesday night said Dansalan College and the Marawi City jail are on fire amid continuing government forces’ clashes with Maute group terrorists in the city.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, in a briefing in Russia, confirmed this and added that the St. Mary’s Church and the Ninoy Aquino School were also torched by the Maute group.
Police Senior Superintendent Rolly Andaya, deputy regional director of the PNP in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), did not provide further details about the fires.
The armed clashes were triggered by a military-police operation against Isnilon Hapilon, who is known to lead ISIS efforts in Southeast Asia, the AFP said in a statement.