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An Open Letter to President Duterte On The Marawi Crisis of 2017

(The following article is published here unedited from the original written by Datu Meno D. Manabilang, present Sarip Batua sa Madaya. We print it here so the people may know. Any opinion expressed herein does not necessarily reflect that of Ranao Star, or any of its editors. - Editor}

The writer was rescued after 16 days of being trapped in the Marawi battle. (FB Post) 
The Marawi City siege in 2017 has a significant implication in the history of the Bangsa Meranao in which President Rodrigo Roa Duterte belongs. He is the descendant of Rajah Samporna of Tagoloan, Ozamiz and Bae Andong of Mamogaw, Balo-i in the 10th generation. With this, we, the Bangsa Meranao, have to be proud of and he must be with us in our desire to save Marawi from the siege. 

Marawi City has valuable things in its socio-economic setting. It is known to be the Islamic City in the Philippines. It is blessed by Allah (s.w.t) in which the lake Lanao, one of the ancient 7th beautiful lakes in the world, is situated. It is free from typhoons, and the summer capital of the South, only next to Baguio City. It is a City of hospitality and home of the national cultural heritage of the Bangsa Meranao. It is the location of the Mindanao State University (MSU), one of the higher educational institutions of learning in the country next to the University of the Philippines (UP), and a host of the National Power Corporation in the South which generates more than 60% of electric power requirements of the entire Mindanao.

The Marawi siege carries with twin lessons and “music” of history. First, the Ramadhan had said goodbye to my friends with a very sad experience, and second, is the war which continues to persist. The sad experiences herein will remain in our hearts forever. It carries divine lessons for the Bangsa Meranao with the great experience that never had been before in our history. It carries messages already enshrined in the Holy Qur-an and in the teachings of the Holy Prophet that we took for granted.

With this, let us be united to save Marawi and ask forgiveness and repentance from Allah (s.w.t). Let us re-direct the sailing of our boat of the journey with a thousand miles and accept all the challenges until we succeed. Victory is certain and declaration of freedom and history.

At a glance, the Marawi siege of 2017 started after the 3 days of the national gathering of the Jama’a Tabligh at Markaz, Basak Malutlut, Marawi City with some disturbances and harassment. This was followed by shooting of guns and abducting and the announcement to civilians to evacuate to take refuge of outside safe places. In effect, all residents and civilians of the City fled with their families carrying nothing just to save their lives thinking that for short time all will be normalized and they could be able to return to their respective houses. The Government Units and Military were shocked after sporadic rattling of guns from elsewhere. The LGU had nothing to do except to secure themselves with the employees concentrated in the City Hall and Provincial Capitol. Afterward, the Military thought that they couldn’t match the offensive group, they had no option except to return to their respective campus and report the actual situation and wait for orders.

The siege started in the afternoon of May 23, 2017. During the night of the same day, the seizing of City Jail happened, the Dansalan College and Saint Mary School burned afterwards and razed to the grounds. The next day dated May 24, 2017, 90% of the civilians evacuated to safe places with their families to escape from cruel ruthless killings of the Maute (inspired ISIS) group with no mercy. Bandits and outlaws were free to participate in the concert music of the rattling sound of machine guns, thunderous bombs, and staccato of 105 and all were free to participate and took anything else within the City. Peace negotiation to appease the situation had no place. The tune of the day was not peace but the power of bombs and guns were increasing. The increased of fire exchanges and the failure of the local government to normalize the situation prompted President Duterte who was in foreign land to have declared Martial Law. The Military had no option except to take action and cordoned the City. Nobody is allowed to go inside but was free to go out. On May 25, 2017, upon the arrival of the President from abroad, he officially declared Martial law by virtue of Executive Order No. 216. Thereafter, the concert of guns and bombs had continued exchanging in downtown from Madaya to Marinaut, Marawi city.

On the night of May 25, 2017, an announcement heralded sighting the start of fasting of the holy month of Ramadhan, an obligatory injunction to all Muslims with some reasonable exceptions. On the same day, we had no resource except to take a bath as optional requirements for admittance to the real fasting. So, all Muslims in the world more or less 2 billion people have to observe fasting and abstaining from foods, drinks, sex, evil doings, etc. The writer and his wife Hadji Rahma had to observe fasting with determination to stay with two sick family members in their house at Marinaut in the City. They had to fast even without electricity and had to perform all required daily obligatory prayers.

On May 28, 2017, a bomb dropped on their house and made his brother-in-law, Macalonto Comadug sicker and was getting weaker from breathing. On May 30, 2017, Macalanto died at 3:20 pm. I asked help from neighbors to help him buried. Thanks, Allah, that Rashid A. Mambuay and Hamid M. Busran responded with no hesitation and helped to bury him right in the kitchen. In the graveyard, the bomb dropped could be traced and visible. On June 08, 2017, we were among those rescued persons by the Civilian Rescuers with the help by the Military. Alhamdulillah, prior to this, we were able to observe the obligatory fasting and prayers during our time in the war zone. Now, the holy month of Ramadhan had ended and Eid’l Fitr was universally celebrated with a mixture of sorrow and happiness while the Marawi siege has not ended till this day.

What maybe the purpose/s of the Marawi City siege and who are the actors of the siege offensive? Whatever and whoever, it is sad to note that the original purpose is politically motivated and too personal. Until finally, with the participation of different groups like the Israel Secret Intelligence Services or ISIS headed by Hapilon, a Tausug origin, the Maute Group headed by Engr. Omar Maute and his brother Aleem Abdullah Maute and some bandits and outlaws, etc. They made the heavy purposes with a mixture of interests. You are more than successful in your desired purpose in destroying and burning Marawi City. It is not just merely destroying or burning but the City is even overkilled.

The siege carries the greatest crisis in the history of the Bangsa Meranao. The Meranaos were shocked and forced by circumstances but this is not the end. Until the last man standing, Marawi City shall be saved for the Meranao. It is a part of their maratabat/pride to save the City by all means till the last breath of their lives.

With this, we, Bangsa Meranao, respectfully demand to all the Marawi Siege actors to vacate the area and leave it to the Meranao peace advocates.. To prolong this war is to add more fuel in fire and in effect, you are not helping the Bangsa Meranao. If your purpose is to erase the Marawi from the map as the only developing Islamic City in the country then wait for the curse of God that will come to you soon. All the stakeholders of Marawi inflicted by this siege are demanding justice. We demand justice for the victims and we vehemently demand collateral damages and all sort of damages carried by this siege against us. That we, therefore, demand all the actors to be adjudicated in the Philippine Courts and to the International Criminal Court (ICC) of Justice at Hague, Netherlands to satisfy justice according to the democratic system.

In order to move forward, we would like to legally establish the Meranao Art New Advocacy or MANA Save Meranao among the stakeholders to unify our face to save Marawi. This group shall be established to help in the creation of Mindanao Inter-Agency task force to be organized from the grassroots of barangay level. The MIA Task force is also change for the installation of modern CCTV with sound instrument. It is very crucial and timely as to work additional force for the barangay level as a potent force ready at any time to secure areas of responsibility and protect lives and properties of the stakeholders on an urgent response to any incidental circumstance in case of emergency situation like what happened is a great lesson we cannot tolerate. The modern CCTV is to be installed in all strategic areas in Mindanao to monitor daily to maintain peace and order in the entire Mindanao.

The MIA Task Force with the MANA Save Marawi shall work together in the realization of a Mindanao wide TRUCE for a period of 25 years to be signed by every head of the families, every barangays, imams and masjid heads, churches heads and management heads, including universities heads, the traditional leaderships, organizations and business managements heads, but not limited to markets, park and terminal managements. To include the MILF, MNLF, ABUSAYAF, MAUTE GROUP, the ISIS, etc. concerned groups including traditional leaders the ulamas, the priests and religious sections and different organizations in Mindanao. It will be witnessed by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation or OIC, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN and the United Nations or U.N. This will have a chance to a new horizon to end the war in Mindanao. Finally, open the gate of full development, reconstruction, and reconciliation in Mindanao with the utmost chance of security and protection of every stakeholder, with love, respect, understand, and peaceful co-existence in our desired vision to eradicate social evils against poverty in our society.

So, therefore, let us demand that all evacuees’ assistance from government and private organizations either locally or internationally shall be distributed accordingly. This assistance shall be checked properly especially for those whose houses are burned, destroyed or damaged. They must be given persuasive assistance. The purpose of which is to ensure that everybody will smell the value and essence of oneness as people as enshrined in the Qur’an, where Allah says “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes that ye may know each other. Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. (Qur’an, 49:13). This verse has relevance to the individual, family, tribal and international relations for peaceful coexistence and cooperation.

Thank you, Mr. President, for the untimely efforts and supports you have extended in saving Marawi City from the siege actors. We are hoping for the immediate recovery and rebuilding of the City. Good day and Wassalam!

Truly yours,

Datu Meno Dimacaling Manabilang
Present Sarip Batua of Madaya, Marawi City

"Let me assure you that, to those who believe no proof is needed, and, to those who don’t believe no proof is enough”
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