By Ali G. Macabalang
MARAWI CITY – The recent rescue from the rubbles of war here of three iconic Maranao octogenarians has drawn public praise that turned viral in the social media and encouraged local relief workers to scratch the grounds for more survivors.
Retired Regional Trial Court Judge Pukumu, Pundogar, Engr. Mama Mangorangca and erstwhile Moro fighter Meno Manabilang were rescued from their abodes in war-torn suburbs here last week, according to Zia Alonto Adiong who also earned public appreciation in announcing the “successful rescue” of the three iconic elders.
According to the Ranaw Response Team (RRT) of which Adiong is the spokesman, a day after the fighting between militants and state forces erupted here on May 23, younger family members of Pundogar, Mangorangca and Manibilang had spread text messages seeking assistance for the rescue of their elders.
Rescue efforts for the octogenarians and other trapped residents had been stunted by the continuous trade of bullets between the warring forces until President Duterte ordered the opening of “peace corridors” last week for coordinated retrieval operations to work effectively.
“May God protect and bless our elders,” Adiong said in a Facebook post lately, referring to Pundogar, Mangorangaca and Manabilang, who had exemplified career exploits among Maranaos during their younger days.
Before serving as regional trial court judge, Pundogar had gained recognition for active services as pioneer provincial fiscal (prosecutor) in the Lanao region, something the late President Ferdinand Marcos rewarded once by playing golf with him at the Mindanao State University (MSU) campus golf course here in late 1970s.
Mangoranca, for his part, was credited for his services as MSU chief engineer during the challenging years of building infrastructures such as the academic campus here in 1980s.
Contemporary residents, on the other hand, would always remember how then young Manabilang, a member of the “Top 90” pioneer combatants of the Moro National Front, staked his life defending Maranaos during the 1973 bloody resistance here against repressive enforcers of the martial law.
Meanwhile, Adiong, incumbent assemblyman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said on Saturday that an unnamed 15-year-old resident was fatally hit by a stray bullet while joining the Friday congregational prayers inside Campo Ranao Masjid here.
The teenage fatality was believed hit by a sniper from the combined Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups that laid siege in this city on May 23 and forced the President to declare martial law across Mindanao. (AGM)