MUSLIMS and Christians alike must work together to ensure that what happened in Marawi City and other areas in Mindanao will not be destroyed by extremists.
“To defeat the rise of violent extremism in our country, we emphasize on civilian participation and to take into account the role of both the community of Muslims and Non-Muslims alike,” said Zia Alonto Adiong, spokesperson of the Lanao del Sur provincial crisis committee in a statement on Tuesday, October 31.
The Muslim community in the Philippines, he said, must stand united against violent ideology and must dismiss terrorism as an act against the Islamic faith.
“A crime committed against innocent people on a pretext of a religious war must be condemned in form and in substance,” he said.
But Adiong notes the Christian majority must also reinforce this effort of thwarting any movement that promotes extremism by ensuring that any faith outside the doctrines of Catechism is not a proclivity to commit crime.
This way, he said, “we prevent the rise of Islamophobia which in many cases evolve into bigotry, discrimination and even murder as in the case of the self-confessed, ultra-religious, armed [C]hristian group called the ‘Ilaga’ in the 70s.”
It is on this shared responsibility and understanding as citizens of this country, Muslims and Christians alike, he said, “that in order to keep our communities safer and more secure, we shall bridge religious gap and work towards defeating a common enemy.”
For his part, Drieza Lininding, chairperson of the Moro Consensus Group, said the fast recovery of Marawi to rise from the ruins caused by more than five months of fighting between government forces and insurgent must depend not just on the efforts of the government but on its people, as well.
If the government is really keen on fast tracking the reconstruction of Marawi City, its affected civilians must be allowed to take part in the decision-making process, Lininding said.
“The key is the direct participation of the people in the rebuilding of Marawi,” he said.
He said the internally displaced persons (IDPs) must have a say on how they could get back on their feet, as many of them are getting ready to move back to their communities in Marawi.
But instead of requiring them to live in transitional shelters, Lininding said it would be best if the government will give them direct financial assistance so the evacuees could build their own homes on the same area.
The financial aid should be based on the assessed damage to the residents’ houses.
That way, he said, the IDPs can restart to live their lives and at the same time it will give the government time to focus on the construction of public infrastructure such as roads, schools and other structures.
“Give them the money and let them build their own homes,” Lininding said, adding that the temporary shelters are not the practical solution to the Marawi problem.
Besides, the evacuees will find it hard to survive in the temporary shelters since their means of livelihood is in Marawi.
He said the sooner that the displaced Maranaos can go back to Marawi, the sooner the city could be restored back to normal.
Lininding said the IDPs also need capital to re-launch their businesses and once the government began allocating funds to start their enterprise, Marawi will slowly spring back to life.
“If it takes 50 years to rebuild Marawi, give the people capital for the businesses, and its recovery period will be cut short,” he said, adding that in three to five years, business establishments will be built and trade and commerce will flourish.
He said the Marawi planners are concerned more about the infrastructure and less on providing capital to the affected civilians.
Published in the SunStar Cagayan de Oro newspaper on November 01, 2017.