Maranaos eager to go back home

MARAWI City residents who have sought refuge in Cagayan de Oro City are now anxious to go home following President Rodrigo Duterte's pronouncement yesterday that the country’s only Islamic city has now been "liberated" from extremists.

Malicah Ali, who currently lives in Barangay Balulang, Cagayan de Oro City, said she was happy to learn about the deaths of Omarkhayam Maute and Isnilon Hapilon, leaders of the ISIS-inspired group that has been fighting the government for the past 5 months.

Ali, a mother of six, related how it was hard for her to find shelter for her family in the first weeks of the fighting.

"Hindi nila kami tinatanggap kung nagre-renta kami, hindi naman kami doon pwede sa mahal na mga bahay kasi mahirap lang, napakahirap," she said.

Ali now shares an apartment with a friend and is selling food as a livelihood while she waits for the fighting to end.

"Nasunog na daw yung bahay namin, pero bahala na, gusto lang talaga namin makabalik at magsimula ulit. Sana hindi na matagalan kasi wala naman kaya'ng terorista," she said.

Meanwhile, an Ulama or a Muslim religious scholar, urged the government to hasten the rehabilitation efforts and start healing the wounds of those victimized by the terrorists.

"Yung pain nanjan parin yan, hindi mawawala kasi maraming nasira, maraming affected. Sana nga sa pagkmatay nina Hapilon at Maute ay tuluyan nang matigil ang digmaan para naman sa aming mga sibiliyan na gusto lang mamuhay in peace," the 52 year-old Ulama said.

Mohamad Gondarangin, president of the Oro Muslim Association, foor his part said, that education and anti-terrorism campaign should be a priority of the local government of Marawi.

"Lesson learned, huwag na sana maging lenient ang Marawi officials in terms of security, peace and order. Let us not make the same mistake, terrorism should never be tolerated. Dili gyud sakto ang ilang binuhatan kay na-displace ang mga tao, naglisod ang mga babae, mga bata, ang gihagoan sa mga tao ug pila ka tuig, nawala lang ug kalit. What they did was very un-Islamic" he said.

Gondarangin also said Maranaos should be involved in the planning to the actual rebuilding of the destroyed city.

He said while Maranaos welcome foreign help, he added, that massive work should be entrusted to the displaced families.

"Malay natin, baka makatulong pa ang rehabilitation if the government makes it a livelihood program for the families," he added.

Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno, meanwhile, welcomed the President’s pronouncement on the "liberation" of Marawi City, saying this signifies the ‘redemption of Mindanao.’

"The challenge now is the rebuilding, and it's not going to be easy. We also acknowledge that so much lives have been lost, but what's important is, not an inch of Philippine sovereignty was taken away," he said.

"So I hope that our security, solidarity, compassion, I hope maka tantalize kana in awakening Mindanao, we have to live in peace and harmony, we have to be united. And for the Maranaos staying here, they are welcome to stay," he said.

Moreno said he believes that what happened in Marawi will push Mindanao towards a brighter tomorrow.

Asked if martial law should now be lifted, Moreno said he leaves the decision to the security forces.

"I leave that to the security forces kay ang threat man gud, kay it's not as if wala na ang Maute sa Marawi the threat is also gone, but we must remember that this kind of martial law is very much different, the courts and legislature are functioning, as well as the civilian government," he said.


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