Latip-Yusoph: Our Land, Our Marawi

APRIL 1 was the start of scheduling the Kambisita program of the City government and the Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) to allow displaced families from the most affected area (MAA) to visit their homes and retrieve their personal belongings. The said program offered a lot of issues within and among city constituents due to unavailability of proper briefing for all those families who would be getting in the area.

Questions from concerned individuals include, how safe is the MAA? In the information sheet distributed to Marawi IDPs include a statement that only 80% of the UXOs and IEDs were cleared. This means that a significant percentage of 20% is still left unknown and possibly left in those affected areas. It is alarming, isn’t it?

Aside from the briefing needed, there is also a dangerous possibility that some of those who will be granted entry may not have the emotional capacity to accept everything that they will see in their homes. Possibilities of breaking down and escalation of anger may happen due to this prolonged agony.

We are now on the 11th month of this crisis and until today, the consultation among stakeholders is still fluid. Some cannot agree to what has been prepared by TFBM during the presentation of the development plan for Marawi. The social preparations in facing the Marawi constituents were not planned according to what is palatable to the Marawians. They have underestimated the cultural and religious sensitivities that needed to be addressed before the presentation.

Meranaws are kind and hospitable by nature. Plans for development is very much welcome but we need to understand how we have lived in the long history of this country. We have been protecting our ancestral domain and homes since time immemorial. We have been fighting for self-determination since history has been understood in this country. Because of these, emotions of the affected Meranaws have heightened because of the Marawi Crisis. These reasons alone must be well-thought of and planned before its final execution.
Development of a community is never bad. It is even an advantage. However, it must be based on the development and perspective of the community concerned. In some places, parks and stadiums are very attractive; while in others are not. Simply put, beauty is relative.

Since we, Meranaws, are Muslims in general, planners and developers should have seen the importance of our culture and religion to us. We can always be guided by the best developers in order to carve the best plan for Marawi but the source and inspiration must come from our innate nature.

Aside from the concerns of the displace families regarding Kambisita, many are questioning the next steps after the visit. Why can’t a resident of Marawi go back to his home and start rebuilding his own house and home? Why do we have to wait for the plan of the government to be executed? Are we not resilient enough to start all over again? How are we going to be compensated in case our lot become part of the development zones? All these are but a few of the questions that need answers.

The truth is, going back to our own homes the soonest possible is the best gift that TFBM can give the Marawians or the old Dansalan residents before the Marawi Siege anniversary. The TFBM can remove debris, UXOs and IEDs but they cannot remove our hearts from where we have been rooted. Marawi is our homeland, our forefathers’ homeland.

It is in our Marawi where we can rebuild the lost faith. It is only through understanding and considering our cultural and religious aspirations where we can achieve true peace in Mindanao and the whole country.

If not, I am afraid that the worst scenario for this country is yet to unfold. The unconquered people of Dansalan whose humanity is burned into ashes will soon rise up from their ashes and become the phoenix that shall soar high and bring back the light of peace in this nation.
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