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Give us arms and we eliminate the Terrorists! -- Sultan Sarangani 


By MASIDING NOOR YAHYA*
Iligan City, Philippines
July 24, 2017

Sultan Usman Sarangani was right. The ultimate solution to the crisis in Marawi is to eliminate the terrorists. He told the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), “Arm us and we eliminate the terrorists.”

Sarangani , a well-respected Sultan of Uyaan of the Pat a Pungampong ko Ranao (Four Prefectures of Ranao), was addressing heads and representatives of local government units, traditional leaders, the clergy and other sectors of Lanao del Sur who attended a meeting held at Elena towers in Iligan city on Saturday, July 22, 2017. The members of the AFP present during the meeting promised to bring the bold request to their superiors considering its serious implications.

Called for by the provincial government of Lanao del Sur, the meeting discussed the possibility of the evacuees returning to Marawi or to their respective hometowns in the province. It heard reports of committees composed of the provincial Ulama tasked by the provincial government to see the present situation of IDPs in evacuation centers and home-based in different localities, and to listen to observations and suggestions from other sectors. The meeting also was to hear the municipal chief executives’ reactions and agenda, particularly on their offer to provide shelter and relief assistance in their respective municipalities to the Maranao evacuees.

PROPOSED MARCH TO MARAWI AND PRAYER RALLY IN MANILA
Meanwhile, a group of Maranao IDPs, who are inspired by a clergy who called themselves Ulama Council, are pushing their way to go back to Marawi today, Monday, July 24. The military objected to it. LGUs opposed it. Even many Maranao leaders are not in favor of it. Civic leader Samira Gutoc Tomawis asked the group to shelve the plan until everything is clear and the area is peaceful to return to Marawi. She is just among the many who have asked the organizers of the march not to push it through.

We heard ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman saying in Iligan about three weeks ago, “It is not timely.” Or we heard Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra as saying, "It's too dangerous." Many Maranao leaders are not in favor of such march rally. After all, Martial Law recognizes no other law but Martial Law, and the Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus is suspended thus due process can no longer be invoked.

In the meeting at Elena Tower, there are possibilities raised should the group go on with their plan of marching to Marawi.

First, they will be helping the Maute Group or the terrorists to fight against the military. May be at gunpoint, many marchers will be provided arms and forced to fight side by side with them.

Second, terrorists’ companions or sympathizers may join the group in going to Marawi to reinforce their comrades.

In both cases, the war will become worst and will just hinder a safe and peaceful return to the city.

In Manila, some Maranaos are organizing a prayer rally to ask the government of two things:

One is to stop Martial Law in Mindanao, and second, to halt airstrikes and artillery bombing in Marawi. The first one is already moot and academic. Congress has allowed its extension. The second one is a matter of hope against hope because as reports keep saying there are still a lot of MG fighters in Marawi and the military said it has to exterminate them all at any cost.

Another Ulama activity in the big city is seeking a green-light from the Palace to negotiate with the Maute Group. So far, no significant progress is reported in this pursuit after President Duterte announced he closed door for negotiation with the armed terrorists.

WE ARE TOO OCCUPIED WITH RELIEF ASSISTANCE, AND THE CALL TO LIFT MARTIAL LAW

Government different line agencies and civil society groups have been too occupied with securing relief assistance and delivering them to the evacuees or taking care of their welfare. Even Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), both already existing and newly organized, are busy in soliciting relief goods, but none has raised the issue on how to ultimately eliminate the terrors that struck Marawi and affecting the entire province of Lanao del Sur.

CSOs decried the halt of the military airstrikes and artillery bombardment in Marawi City as such military actions had not eliminated the terrorists, but, instead had killed many civilians and destroyed homes and residential houses. Despite repeated military pronouncements that it would not take long before the crisis end, airstrikes and artillery bombardments still go on for two months now which only means that terrorists are still very much alive.

All those programs of taking care of the welfare of the evacuees and victims of their basic needs such as foods and shelter are temporary and not the ultimate solution to the problem. Even the call to stop Martial Law by the CSOs is not that matter most now. Martial Law is not necessary if terrorism would be wiped out.

The situation sometimes gives a devilish bias notion to some: Are not that relief assistance which immediately came meant to contend a little the agony of the Maranaos in order to somehow offset any ferocious reactions they might think to a resort? Without any violent reactions from the Maranao people who are victims of the Marawi siege, there will be no hindrance to any hidden agenda behind the siege which observers are deeply trying to evaluate.

Is there no other group that can work out or help on how to stop this terrorism so that we can return peacefully to our homeland? If the military could not contend it, then perhaps it is a time they give heed to the request to arm the civilians.

WHY ARE THE MUSLIMS IN THE WORLD TARGET OF TERRORISM

Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, in alphabetical order, to a name a few, is a terrorism arena. These Muslim lands are destroyed, their people killed and their economies devastated. The irony is that Muslims appear to be the villains (terrorists) in their own homeland and foreign powers such as America and the Zionist Israel are the actors. Another irony is a common perception that these terror groups are created, financed and directed by the West in order to sow armed conflicts in Muslim areas.

We cannot help but think everything seemed premeditated. Similarly, we cannot help also but ask why Muslims stronghold areas anywhere in the world are under siege. Marawi, Islamic city of the Maranaos, the Unconquered People by any foreign invaders in the past, is now invaded, the same way those Muslim countries mentioned above were invaded and the ISIS and local allies are the perpetrators.

As it is obviously observed, the ISIS or ISIL is well-financed and well-trained in the art of war using all sophisticated and modern armaments only America can provide. And fights against them anywhere in the world are one way or the other directed by American military advisers as what we see in terror-stricken Muslim lands. Marawi is not an exception.
Is it because Islam is the hindrance to the realization of the New World Order where there should be only one universal law, one culture and education, one common system of economy, and one global government to execute that planned Order and implement peace and order among humanity?

WIPING OUT TERRORISM IS THE ULTIMATE SOLUTION TO THE MARAWI CRISIS

“The ultimate solution is to eliminate the terrorists,” said Sarangani, urging all sectors, “We have to unite to fight against the Maute Group and the ISIS so that our people can go back and live peacefully in their homes.”

The fight between IS-inspired Maute Group and the government took too long to resolve as it had already reached two months. And the like of Sarangani believe there is already too much suffering of their people for such a long war.

Sarangani said if the military cannot contend the problem, it should give arms to the civilians in order to eliminate the terrorists.

“If you cannot eliminate the Maute Group, give us arms and we will eliminate them,” he stressed.

Sometimes ago, we heard the same cries of Marawians when they met a top ranking Muslim official in the administration of President Rodrigo R. Duterte. Belonging to a prominent family in the sieged city, the Marawians who preferred not to be identified said the armed forces only aimed to destroy the city and kill civilians. “They are not truly aiming to wipe out the terrorists,” he pointed out.

“We should have fought against these terrorists if the military did not warn us to leave the city. They gave us an ultimatum to leave the city in a few hours and so we did, leaving everything behind,” he said. “The big question is ‘why’ did they ask us to leave whn we did not know where to go?”

On May 25, I met a military official at a mall in Iligan City. Because he is a friend, he told me not to go or allow my wife to go back to Marawi as it is too dangerous.

“What is a matter of a week to wait?” He expected the fight to last the most in a matter of a week. I took his word and we did not go back to Marawi. In fact, we have not gone back since May 23 until this writing -- the one-week waiting becomes two months now and fighting between the Maute Group and the AFP still continues. We are already losing hope if anything in the headquarters of The New Ranao Star and Ranao Publishing House, not to mention our home, could be saved anymore as lootings have been the order of the day and millions if not billions in cash and in kind are reportedly being looted.

WILL MARAWI BECOME WORLD’S BEST TOURISM HUB?

The plan of the government for rebuilding, reconstruction and rehabilitation of Marawi leads us to the scenario that it will become a lively, progressive world-class tourist destination. Of course, bringing-in big income to both the government and the locals whoever they will be. But our worry is that Marawi is no longer the one it used to be; worst, the Maranaos are no longer the pure Maranaos. The name will be applied to anyone who lives by the lake whether pure blooded Maranao or immigrant. The business boom will definitely attract investors and generate employment. And even if the original Maranaos are given priority for employment, they are not enough to fill up the needed workers.

The above is one scenario.

OR WILL THE NEXT WORLD WAR START IN MARAWI?

The second scenario is Marawi and for that matter the Ranao Region will host the next world war. This sounds ridiculous but not impossible. It is known for a fact that the Maranao has that Maratabat that once instilled in his mind and heart, only death can take it from him. He will fight for his homeland, for his people, for his religion towards Victory, even if it means his martyrdom. This happens in the coast of Ranao Region where the Sabirs (Martyrs) of Radapan lost their lives against the Spaniards who wanted to govern and Christianize the Maranaos.

Every year, we commemorate the Battle of Bayang in which hundreds of our Datus were martyred by the American expeditionary forces because our forebears did not want to be subservient under the occupying American regime. Many other historical accounts praised the Maranao People on how they defended their homeland and preserved their culture and identity. Of course, this is not until the ongoing Marawi siege when, being law abiding citizens, they followed government warning to evacuate their homeland, giving them to leave within just a few hours.

If the Maranaos will boldly interpret that the Marawi siege will root them out from their Homeland, or eradicate their identity as a nation, they may not be able to suppress deep inside their Maratabat and may rise to take up arms against anyone whom they think is behind the siege. Even now, curses against the Maute Group and ISIS have already been outpouring, blaming the armed elements for the devastation of Marawi, that is why they are asking the military to arm them.

If this happens, the world powers may interfere and use it as an arena to start a fight for world power domination.

May Allah guide us all, may He save the Muslims and their Homelands, and may He give us strengths, power, and ability to win against our enemies in defending our lives and properties and Islam. May Allah also bless the entire humanity to live in peaceful harmony, respecting each other's Faith and Ways of Life while working side by side with each other for their common good and benefits, and together they attain Mutual Peace, not the Forced Peace. Ameen. Thank you. (TNRS)


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*MASIDING NOOR YAHYA is an independent Maranao thinker. He founded in 2003 THE NEW RANAO STAR, the only newspaper published from the Maranao Region, as well as PHILIPPINE MUSLIM STAR, a forthcoming nationwide Muslim weekly to be launched in September 2017 in Manila. A Marawian by blood, he and his family is among hundreds of thousands of victims of the Marwi Siege. (TNRS)
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