By CRIS DIAZ
Apprehension has started to creep into the minds of the Maranaos as the government’s rehabilitation program in the war torn Islamic City of Marawi started to roll this early. The government has earmarked an initial P 20 billion fund to rehabilitate the rubbles of Marawi, a condition left during the five-month armed conflict with the Maute-ISIS group that started in May 2017 and ended in mid-October 2017.
The human rights groups, particularly the Suara Bangsamoro (Voice of the Bangsamoro), are apprehensive that the rehabilitation could directly benefit the interest of the Maranaos. “There is this feeling that the rehabilitation of Marawi City would serve the best interest of the government than the Maranaos,” Jerome Succor Aba, of the Suara Bangsamoro, said.
The Suara Bangsamoro suggests that the rehabilitation would be done in accord with the wishes of the Maranaos. “We want the Maranaos to decide on how the rehabilitation would be carried out rather than dictated by the government,” Aba said.
Perhaps, there are grounds of the anxieties expressed by the Suara in response to allege report that the multi-nationals would be going to Marawi City to develop the area. According to reports, the Dole-Philippines and other tropical fruit companies have expressed interest to develop Lanao Del Sur into a plantation site. If the report is true, the entrance of the multi-national plantation companies could be part of the conditions set by the World Bank (WB) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
As usual, the WB and the ADB are always willing to lend money provided that they would set the rules before the loan is granted. Aba said that the WB and the ADB rules are the fingerprints of the American imperialist. The Suara, together with the international human rights groups, denounced the interference of the US troops in the Marawi armed conflict. They claimed that the US participation in Marawi was a clear indication that the Philippine government remains in the clutches of the Americans.
While denouncing the Americans and blaming President Rodrigo Duterte for declaring Martial Law, which lead to about 400 human rights violations to the Maranaos, the Suara Bangsamoro also disclosed that the Muslims in Lanao Del Norte has also declared war against the Maute-ISIS group.
Aba also confirmed that the Muslim communities in Mindanao have declared war against the Maute-ISIS for bringing havoc to the people of Lanao Del Sur and Central Mindanao. The Imams (the Moslem clerics) have described the Maute-ISIS terror groups as “Haram” (prohibited and unwanted). Regrets?
Of course, regrets came in late. The Maranaos could also be partly blamed of their misfortunes. Had they resisted the entry of the ISIS led by Isnilon Hapilon and the Abu Sayyaf, the armed conflict in Marawi City could have had happened. On the other hand, the Maranaos could not also be blamed of coddling the terrorists. Being devout Muslims, the Maranaos were, perhaps, led to believe that the Maute-ISIS could bring changes to their lives.
Hapilon, has been designated the ISIS “Emir” in Southeast Asia because of his fluency in Arabic and his mastery of the Quran. With Hapilon are the locally known Maute brothers who, aside from being a scion of a rich and influential family, were also educated in the Middle East and spoke Arabic fluently. In the Maranaos and in other Muslim communities in the country, a person who speaks Arabic always gain the admiration and respect of the Moslem brothers.
It is the admiration and the adulation of the Maranaos to the Mautes and Hapilon that leads to the perdition of Marawi City. Candidly speaking, the impoverished Filipinos living in the countryside are easily swayed by strangers who have the propensity of displaying opulence and superior intelligence. More often than not, opulence and superior education are tickets that could easily convince albeit deceitfully the people living in squalid poverty. That condition has taken place in Marawi City with devastating and destructive consequences.
Perhaps, the lesson learned in Marawi City has awaken the Maranaos that while opulence and influence are the major qualities of an individual, there is always the need to be “reserved.” After the Marawi incident, the Maranaos have learned to be careful in extending too much trust to people who promises “heaven” at the tip of the barrel of the gun.
It is time to embrace peace and be resilient to progress and development. While the government dreamed of rehabilitating Marawi City and its people to the fullest, it is also incumbent for the government officials to listen to the pain and heartaches of the people whose lives crumpled by the excesses of terror and religious extremism. -0- Email reactions/comments: [email protected]
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