Maranaos want dialogue with Duterte after his apology
MANILA, Philippines – The Maranaos have accepted the apology of President Rodrigo Duterte and hoped it would lead to a "productive dialogue" that would give them a voice in the national government's "subsequent actions" in Marawi.
"We accept the apology offered by the President to the Maranao people," Zia Alonto Adiong, a spokesman for the local government, said on Wednesday, June 21.
"We also hope that this apology opens the gate for a more productive dialogue between the President and our people so that the President may hear the pain, suffering, and the voices of ordinary Maranaos so that he may take guidance from it in his subsequent actions," Adiong added.
Duterte on Tuesday visited an evacuation center for Marawi residents in nearby Iligan City. He apologized for the conflict in Marawi City and his decision to declare martial law, saying that he had no choice.
Adiong, the Crisis Management Committee spokesman, said they understood that a "very strong action" was necessary to deal with the ISIS-linked groups.
But there is a sense among some Marawi residents that Duterte has been listening only to the military. The local government has previously called for ceasefires to allow the rescue of trapped residents and retrieval of dead bodies inside the battle zone, but this was rejected by the military.
The Marawi crisis marked its 30th day on Wednesday. At least 26 bodies of civilians were retrieved but about a hundred more are believed to be sprawled on streets inside the battle zone. Almost all of the city's 200,000 residents have evacuated. Many houses were bombed or burned.
At least 62 soldiers and 257 terrorists were also killed, according to a military report. (READ: Marawi battle zone: Urban warfare challenges PH military)
Duterte vowed to rebuild Marawi City and make it "beautiful again."
"We feel the sincerity of his apology and we applaud the genuine concern exhibited by no less than our Commander-in-Chief for the sufferings of our people over the course of this man-made crisis," said Adiong.
Many Maranaos also protested Duterte's earlier statement blaming them for supposedly tolerating and allowing ISIS-linked groups to grow in their community.
The military has contained the terrorists in 4 of the city’s 96 villages. But the terrorists remain well armed and have been “offering pockets of resistance,” according to Colonel Edgard Arevalo, chief of the military’s Public Affair Office.
The presence of hostages and trapped civilians remain to be the challenge for advancing troops, he said. – Rappler.com