By Ali Macabalang
MARAWI CITY – The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)-Lanao del Sur chapter is batting for the formation of a task group that will focus on the alleged kidnapping cases in the province that have continued to sow anxiety among residents, who are still reeling from the trauma of last year’s bloody siege in this city.
“Rumors about kidnapping of people from Marawi City have become pervasive. Authorities should end the confusion once and for all by forming a focal group tasked to investigate and address the issue,” lawyer Mino Macalandap, IBP-Lanao Sur chapter president, told The Manila Bulletin in an interview.
Persistent reports about the alleged cases of kidnapping or missing Maranao women and children are currently handled by the military-led Joint Task Force Ranao (JTFR) and the M’ranao Siyap Movement (MSM), he said.
But the coverage of JTFR, he explained, was “too broad” because it covers peace and order-related cases in the two Lanao provinces as well as the cities of Iligan and Marawi.
Macalandap cited the case of one suspect in an alleged kidnapping of a Maranao girl in Iligan City, who was detained at the provincial police office of Lanao del Sur (PPO-LDS) here. The PPO-LDS released the suspect few days later, invoking the absence of formal complainant and its lack of jurisdiction of Iligan City where the supposed incident took place, he said.
Macalandap said reports of kidnapping and about cases of persons who have gone missing “can only be addressed squarely by a multi-sector task force comprising of police, military and civilian authorities.”
He said his proposal was “very imperative” because the nature of most reported cases ranged from alleged kidnap-for-sex, for ransom, for revenge, or for sale of body organs of the captives.