Thursday Jun, 20 2019 02:54:40 AM

Student displaced by `Mamasapano incident' is college cum laude

Local News • 15:45 PM Sat Jun 8, 2019
John M. Unson
Norombai Utto finished high school two months after the “Mamasapano incident.” 

COTABATO CITY ---- The January 25, 2015 “Mamasapano incident” did not stop her from graduating valedictorian in high school and, on June 11, as cum laude with a secondary teacher's degree.

Norombai Utto, then a senior student of a public secondary school in Barangay Tukanalipao in Mamasapano town in Maguindanao, was among more than a thousand villagers displaced by the atrocity that shook the nation to its core.

Fifteen guerillas of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and 44 personnel of the police’s Special Action Force were killed on January 25, 2015 in a 10-hour encounter there following a raid that resulted in the death of Malaysian terrorist Marwan, whose real name is Zulkifli bin Hir, several hours before.

Five civilians, all ethnic Maguindanaons, were also killed in the ensuing crossfire.

The SAF commandos were retreating from Barangay Pidsandawan, also in Mamasapano, after they neutralized Marwan in brief shootout there when they were attacked from different directions by local MILF guerillas and gunmen belonging to the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

The BIFF operates in the fashion of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and uses the black ISIS flag as banner.

Utto, who graduated valedictorian at the Hadji Salik High School in Barangay Tukanalipao in March 2015, pursued college at the Mindanao State University, or MSU, in Datu Odin Sinsuat town in Maguindanao as scholar of the office of former Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the now defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

She will graduate cum laude on June 11, MSU officials announced on Saturday.

Norombai said on Saturday she is thankful to Hataman for helping her finish Bachelor of Secondary Education major in General Science at the state-run MSU.

Utto said she and her relatives are as grateful to the former ARMM governor whose administration also extended infrastructure, livelihood and other humanitarian interventions to Barangay Tukanalipao residents after the Mamasapano incident.

The ARMM was replaced last February with a more politically empowered Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao based on two compacts between Malacañang and the MILF --- the 2012 Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro and, subsequently, the 2014 Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro.


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