MARAWI CITY -- Joni, 20, from Plaridel, Misamis Occidental, Hassan, 19, from Saudi Arabia, and Ismael, 20, from Marawi City started their first year in college in Mindanao State University-Marawi this week. They studied in MSU Marawi despite the many cases of crimes reported recently and the siege in the city last year.
Joni said his family decided to send him to MSU Marawi because his brother graduated in the same university. He had no choice but to travel all the way from his hometown to Marawi to follow his brother’s footsteps.
Hassan also said that despite his father’s opposition for him to study here, his mother insisted that he did because they have relatives in the city who would take care of him, should he get in trouble or get sick.
Ismael, on the other hand, found it convenient to study in the university because the fees in MSU Marawi are affordable and that he also is from Marawi.
Both Ismael and Joni acknowledged that the University has quality education and has produced top-notch students.
Joni said that MSU has equal standards with the University of the Philippines, since the former administrators of UP were the ones who created MSU Marawi.
As of press time, there were about 2,425 freshmen and counting enrolled in MSU Marawi, according to the MSU Office of Admissions database. Including masters and doctorate students, there are 2,470 new enrollees.
MSU Marawi’s safety and security
Many of these new enrollees are not from Marawi City, like Joni and Hassan who have ‘risked’ schooling and living in the city.
After the Marawi Siege, MSU Marawi has been in alert for security issues. Some of their recent concerns include talks about kidnappings.
The officials of the University have already conducted meetings with Colonel Rosendo Abad, Chief of Staff of Joint Task Force Ranao to discuss the security situation in the Campus.
Another executive committee meeting on Thursday was conducted with the same agenda.
‘False’ kidnapping case
The Office of Information, Press, and Publication (OIPP) of the University has released a statement about a reported case of kidnapping that happened inside the campus.
In the statement, the Security Services Division of the University conducted an investigation on the reported kidnapping of an female found unconscious in the University’s 3rd Street and was brought to the University Infirmary, August 1, 5:00pm.
Investigations showed that she was not an MSU constituent and that according to CCTV footage, no kidnapping had occurred, contrary to the popular stories spread among the University constituents.
Other cases that were reported to the police authorities, according to MSU Office of the President Special Assistant Dr. Rebekah Alawi, include the kidnapping of two girls who were abducted by a van.
Dr. Alawi however said that the accounts of the supposed victims might have shown inconsistencies.
According to an update by OIPP Director Prof. Richard Celeste, he quoted Colonel Abad who said that the kidnapping cases “were fabricated to discredit the crucial role of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.”
Col. Abad further said that it was to scare MSU constituents and the public.
“However, the accounts [of the victims] are still not discredited,” Dr. Alawi told SunStar CDO. “Motives for the [alleged] kidnappings are still to be known.”
“The MSU administrators urge the public not to speculate and sensationalize the incident without verifying first the information,” according to MSU Marawi’s official statement.
Furthermore, Col. Abad said that the AFP will deploy more military personnel in MSU Marawi and have reminded the constituents to still be vigilant and proactive.
“Safety is everybody’s business and concern. The visibility of the forces is also important,” Dr. Alawi said. “There are people who are bent on creating mischief, but we don’t have to be alarmed. However, we (MSU constituents) should be vigilant and careful.”
“I have to do my best despite sa nangyayari dito. Kailangan kumayod for the future,” Ismael said about studying in Marawi.
Hassan said that he brings a cutter with him all the time, just in case because “You never know what will happen.”
Jonie said that he continues to pray for safety while staying in the campus.
In his two weeks in MSU Marawi, he said that he had not met any misfortune yet, but he is still afraid to go out of his boarding house by nightfall and is afraid of going out alone.
He said that he cannot study in other far schools because he does not know anyone there. In MSU, however, he is comfortable because he has many kababayans.
“[People who doubt MSU Marawi] should ask [its] alumni. If you are an MSU student, you are not only mentally strong, but also psychologically, emotionally, physically, and spiritually,” Ismael said.