By Ali Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) government, through its 80-member Parliament, has joined the bandwagon in opposing the establishment of a new military camp in war-torn Marawi City.
The regional parliament passed last Friday Resolution No. 155 “respectfully appealing to President Rodrigo Duterte not to push through (with) the putting up of additional military camp inside the most affected area (MAA) in Marawi City,” lawyer Paisalin Tago, principal author, told the Manila Bulletin on Tuesday.
The resolution was co-authored by Parliament Speaker Pangalian Balindong, deputy speaker Ali Solaiman, and 14 other members – Hamid Barra, Pundoma Sani, Ana Tarhata Basman, Maisara Dandamun-Latip, Modayao Sacar, Basit Abbas, Rasol Mitmug Jr., Zia Alonto-Adiong, Omar Yasser Sema, Amir Mawallil, Mohammad Zainoden Bato, Jose Lorena, Abraham Burahan, and Marjanie Macasalong.
An e-copy of the resolution, which Tago furnished the Manila Bulletin, conveyed the locals’ “fear” that such plan could be a reason to delay reconstruction and rehabilitation works in the MAA and the homecoming of thousands of displaced residents still languishing in evacuation camps or staying with relatives outside Marawi.
“The snail-paced rehabilitation of MAA prevents the displaced residents from returning to their homes and adding agony thereto is the issue of land ownership over which some lands are allegedly (lumped) within military reservation thereby forbidding others to return permanently to their land,” the two-page resolution said.
It cited a related theory pointed out by former Supreme Court Senior Justice Antonio Carpio purporting a land “deprivation” among hundreds of residents born within the MAA alongside their parents and grandparents.
The President recently issued Memorandum Order No. 41 mandating the establishment of a second military camp on a hilly site of the old Marawi City hall, particularly in Kapantaran.
The Philippine Historical Institute deems the site as sacred with high sentimental value in Maranao culture requiring utmost preservation, according to Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra in an earlier interview with the Manila Bulletin.
Gandamra, a lawyer, said Maranao families that had donated parts of their lands for the old city hall site were opposed to the idea of building a new military camp in the area since Marawi City has been hosting for decades the Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade and the provincial police headquarters.
Last week, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Lanao del Sur Chapter issued a manifesto urging the President to reconsider his plan to create another military camp in the city.
“Building (another) military camp will only aggravate the flame of indignation already brimming in the hearts of young Maranaos dispossessed of their lands (in) the Marawi siege and denied of economic opportunities because of unfair treatment or discrimination from their fellow Filipinos, said the statement signed by Aminodin Macalandap, president of the IBP-Lanao Sur chapter.
“We recognize the immense responsibility of the President to secure the safety of the people. But then, this power should be balanced with the rights of the people over their private properties, as well as the rights of the Maranao people over their ancestral lands,” the IBP statement said.
“In a democracy, the right of one person is equally important as the right of all. The planned second military camp entails the expropriation of private properties. It is not enough to pay just compensation; law and jurisprudence dictate that the government has to prove genuine necessity of taking the properties,” it.
The BARMM resolution will be sent to Malacañang, the Office of the Chief Minister, and the Intergovernmental Relations Body, which will tackle concerns on coordination between the national government and the Bangsamoro governance, according to parliament member Tago.