Saturday Apr, 20 2024 05:15:11 AM

Rebuilding Marawi City a tough work 

BANGSAMORO NEWS UPDATES • 17:15 PM Wed May 24, 2023
John M. Unson
Lanao del Sur Gov. Mamintal Adiong Jr. (Photo from provincial gov't FB page)

COTABATO CITY - It’s been six years since terrorists laid siege to Marawi City and ruined centuries-old Maranao villages whose residents are still struggling to rise from the devastation wrought by a bloody religious adventurism that shook the nation to its core.

Lanao del Sur Gov. Mamintal A. Adiong, Jr. said Wednesday while there have been noticeable accomplishments in their efforts to rebuild the barangays destroyed by the May 23 to October 16, 2017 conflict in Marawi City, it may still take time for the local communities to fully bounce back from its adverse effects.

Marawi City is the capital of Lanao del Sur that has 39 municipalities, one of which is Butig, the hometown of the slain siblings Omarkhayam Romato Maute and Abdullah Romato Maute, the founders of the Maute terror group.

Inspired by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the duo and their followers tried to take over Marawi City as part of their plot to establish a puritan Islamic community in the area, one that they had said was to liberate its barangays from non-Muslims.

Halima K. Mansur, a widow with three grade school children, said they have returned in late 2018 to Barangay Marinaut, one of the barangays that the Maute group occupied, but many of their relatives in other areas are still in different towns nearby since their barangays have not been fully rebuilt yet as promised by the national government while still under the now erstwhile President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

“We know that the new administration is focusing attention on the problem. The hostilities in Marawi City happened during the time of the past administration,” Ms. Mansur said in Filipino, in Maranao accent.

A fruit vendor, Muntas G. Saripada, said life for him and members of his family is back to normal after they have resettled in Barangay Daguduban, where many houses were damaged by explosives and artillery blasts, or burned down by terrorists at the height of the Marawi City siege.

Mr. Adiong, also chairperson of the Lanao del Sur provincial peace and order council, said they are fortunate that the agencies under the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, which was established via a plebiscite in early 2019, are helping them address the problems caused by the conflict instigated by the Maute group.

He said he is thankful for the peace and security interventions and capacity-building programs of BARMM’s Ministry of the Interior and Local Government, being implemented in support of the peace and security efforts of local government units in Lanao del Sur, which are essential to their Marawi City rehabilitation thrusts.

“These efforts by the MILG-BARMM complements our initiative to rebuild Marawi City and helps strengthen peace and security outside which is necessary in putting an end to violent extremism. We are thankful too to the Islamic communities in Lanao del Sur for supporting these efforts,” Mr. Adiong said.  

He said the MILG-BARMM had constructed more than a dozen municipal and barangay halls and public market buildings in different towns in Lanao del Sur, some in former bastions of local terrorists driven away via community peacebuilding programs and tactical maneuvers by the police and the military in recent years.

“These buildings are strong edifices of governance and when people see such icons of government, they will adhere to the rule of law,” Mr. Adiong said.

He said the MILG-BARMM had also provided some of their municipal police stations and the Lanao del Sur Provincial Police Office with patrol vehicles that police personnel now use for patrolling in areas vulnerable to intrusion by lawless groups.

The Lanao del Sur provincial government and units of the Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade and the Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region had secured the surrender in the past 12 months, via backchannel dialogues, of 93 members of the Dawlah Islamiya, also operating in the fashion of ISIS, from different towns in the province.

Many of the Dawlah Islamiya surrenderers were former members of the Maute terror group that got disbanded after their two top leaders were killed by pursuing soldiers and policemen on October 15, 2017, a day before Malacañang declared Marawi City totally cleared from the presence of terrorists.

Two of the now reforming former terrorists, Amerodin S. Bansil and Samaon M. Mokiendi, who had relocated to a seaside town in the second district of Lanao del Sur where they are together propagating corn in a rented land owned by relatives as means of livelihood, had expressed remorse over their having joined the Maute terror group due to what was for them “brainwashing” by radical Muslim preachers.

“If I am to be born again, I want to become a moderate ustadz (preacher) so I can preach to people that in Islam there is no such thing as violent extremism. That our religion is all about respect for other religions, universal love, fraternalism, absolute patience and care for mankind,” Mr. Bansil said. (John Felix Unson)

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