STUDENTS of the Mindanao State University (MSU) were traumatized after armed men raided the dormitory of the school in Marawi City past midnight Monday, January 30.
Authorities said it was a joint raid operation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group of the Philippine National Police (PNP-CIDG) after an improvised explosive device (IED) was reportedly found among the possessions of one of the boarders.
Annas (real name not revealed) still tenses up as he recalls the armed men barged into their boarding house.
“Pagbukas ko ng bintana (When I opened the window), I saw men in uniform carrying their weapons inside the compound, some were already on the rooftop. Natakot akong lumabas (I was afraid to go out),” Annas said.
He said the residents inside the boarding were awakened by loud noises from doors and windows being knocked down about 1 a.m. on Monday. When he and his roommates tried to look through the window, they saw some armed men breaking the gates of their boarding house compound while others were already on the neighboring rooftops.
Annas said that official vehicles arrived. By this time, the uniformed men reached their rooms and started taking the boarders out.
“Some of my board mates were forced by the armed men to the ground, and then were made to kneel in front of the wall with their hands tied with tire wires, as if they were criminals caught in the act,” said Annas.
The search operation lasted approximately two hours before the men took some nine boarders to the AFP camp for questioning.
Annas said that when the nine got back after being released, they immediately packed up their things and transferred to other boarding houses.
Annas added that, without their permission, the armed men inspected and their personal cabinets and rooms. He said that valuables were taken from the boarders such as one cell phone and one laptop which was not returned to them as of press time.
“In the morning, after the men left, we were able to talk to two women who were not included with the ones brought outside. One was pregnant and another has just given birth a few days ago. They said that the men accused one of them of keeping explosives in her room but that is not true,” Annas said.
He added that because the owner of the boarding house was working abroad, the caretaker was surprised and was helpless throughout the whole operation.
The student said while the university has not given them support or assistance the morning after the event, some concerned relatives went and tried to help the boarders.
“I’ve heard na hindi po sila pinahintulutang na maghain ng reklamo at gusto ng mga nangraid na panindigan na tama ang kanilang search operation (that they are not allowed to file a complaint and they want to prove that their search operation was right),” Annas said.
Annas said the boarders are both angry and traumatized by the treatment that they received by the authorities and the lack of action coming from the university administration concerning the incident.
Some students are now considering dropping out of their courses and leaving the university for safety purposes.
Terrified students and faculty members are still searching for answers and justice behind the joint raid operation.
After the incident, some students and faculty members are now forming an alliance to tackle the concern on information dissemination and security issues inside the MSU main campus. Most students are demanding the administration for immediate action because they already feel unsafe living inside the university premises.
“We only hear rumors and unverified stories about it. Hence, the feeling of fear is elevated. Classes weren’t even cancelled as if nothing happened,” said Jun, a senior student of MSU-Main.
“Yung gagawin naming alliance is composed of student organizations, student publications, and faculty members. Nagulat nga kami na nabalita ang (We were shocked when we heard the news about) MSU because of a planted bomb and raid by the AFP inside the campus. We believe that as a state institution it is imperative for Mindanao State University to promote, uphold, and protect its constituents. The MSU administration is fully accountable for all violence, crimes, or bomb threats involving the students, faculty members, and staff,” said Reemar Alonsagay, a student of MSU and a member of the Liga ng Makabagong Kabataan-MSU Chapter.
The MSU administration has not released an official statement about the raid inside their campus as of this writing.