MSU-Marawi determined to open in August for 2nd semester
MARAWI CITY, Philippines – The Mindanao State University (MSU) in Marawi City is determined to reopen in August for the 2nd semester despite the ongoing clashes with terrorists in nearby barangays.
MSU president Habib Macaayong said he trusts military estimates that the crisis in Marawi is nearing its end. He is confident that the Philippine Marines detailed to secure the compound can protect thousands of teachers and students who will return to the university.
“The atmosphere in MSU is fine, security is ok and the marines are providing night security,” Macaayong told reporters in an interview on Thursday, June 22.
On Thursday, the military also brought the media to check the vicinity of MSU to see that the area has been cleared. Residents, however, have not been allowed back to their homes.
MSU is the 2nd largest state university, next only to the University of the Philippines. Its 11 collegiate campuses are located in 8 provinces, in 4 of the 6 regions in Mindanao.
When the clashes began in May, the military rushed to secure the university that has a significant population of Christians. Other students walked 32 kilometers from Marawi to Iligan City to escape the clashes.
Macaayong said they can already make the preparations because the campus is far away from the main battle front.
“We do our best in safeguarding the MSU community, but we don’t discount the conflict,” Macaayong said.
He emphasized the role of the university in eradicating the radical ideology promoted by the homegrown terrorist groups that attacked the city.
“We educate the people on how to live peacefully and to live according to the laws of society,” Macaayong said.
He, however, said that the university did not expect the Maute attack to happen. “We did not expect this (ISIS) to happen in the Philippines, Islam is very well understood but there are people who make other interpretations to make trouble. That is not Islam,” Macaayong said.
He added that the war is temporary and the university has a history of rising up again, like what happened during Martial Law when it was declared in 1972.
Macaayong also clarified that there is no radicalization of students inside the MSU campus, but that “it could be happening outside, in Madrasas.”
Macaayong said they are looking for ways to make students faithful to the university and its teachings, believing that education is key against radicalization. “We will do our best to provide scholarship grants to deserving students.”
According to him, the university is developing strategies to provide convenience to students and prevent the entry of radicalization inside the campus.
Macaayong also urged the radicals to stop what they are doing, “The Filipino Muslims are peace-loving people, and we have not caused you any trouble,” Macaayong said.
They have learned to live with Philippine government laws and the Sharia law, he added. – Rappler.com