Peace rally vs harassment slated on Friday

Published March 28, 2018, 10:00 PM

by Mario Casayuran and Vanne Elaine Terrazola

By Ali G. Macabalang

Cotabato City – Local civil society organizations, including the Marawi City-based Bangsamoro Consensus Group (BCG) announced a plan for a peace rally this Friday and a “homecoming march” of evacuees to Ground Zero with or without available resettlement houses.

Facilitators including BCG chair Drieza Abato Lininding and Adel Ditucalan said the homecoming, dubbed “Mbalingan Tano sa (let us return to) Marawi City,” has to be carried out to end provocations against Maranao evacuees in their temporary shelters in Iligan City.

Untold cases of alleged harassments in a village in Iligan City housing Marawi war-displaced people came to the fore yesterday with leaders from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) urging local and higher authorities to intervene and prevent the escalation to armed reprisal.

“This early morning I woke up to a call from a friend in Bayanihan village (in Iligan City). May ni-raid daw na bahay doon at hinuli isang (Maranao evacuee) resident,” ARMM Vice Governor Haroun Al-Rashid Lucman Jr. said in his post on Facebook.

Lucman said he was alarmed by the incident because “the wife and other household members (of the arrested) saw a member of the raiding team (planting a).38 caliber (revolver) and a sachet of suspected illegal drug.”

“The Iligan city government is making all kinds of harassment to the Maranao residents in the Bayanihan village who are mostly IDPs,” he said, affirming his receipt of previous complaints from Marawi evacuees.

Majority of more than 200,000 residents displaced by the May 23, 2017 siege in Marawi by Daesh-inspired militants have been sheltered in different evacuation centers in Iligan City. Some of the evacuees returned to the liberated city and occupied hundreds of housing units built in Marawi City by authorities but over 17,000 displaced families are still left behind.

Exposed in July last year was the alleged serving of pork-laced noodles and giving copies of the Bible to Maranao ethnic Muslim evacuees in Iligan City. The expose reportedly came in the heels of a Facebook video showing young female Maranao evacuees being accosted and ridiculed in the street by traffic management agents wearing uniforms bearing the seal of the Iligan City mayor’s office.

Early this week, Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra reportedly sent an official letter asking Iligan City Mayor Celso Regencia to extend the stay of Maranao refugees in the latter’s turf citing the non-completion of housing projects in the “Islamic city.”

In his Facebook post on Wednesday, ARMM Vice Gov. Lucman said many cases of unchecked harassments on Maranao evacuees already reached a point where the ethnic Muslim community had to take up “maratabat” (pride) to “get justice no matter how.”