Maranao leader to Duterte: Don’t rub salt on our deep wounds

Bobby Lagsa
Former Bangsamoro Transition Commissioner Samira Gutoc-Tomawis: 'Though defense is a power by the President/Commander-in-Chief holding the AFP, the civilian sentiments must be reminded as per the constitution's emphasis on civilian authority over military'

Lumads joining the protest in front of the US Embassy. File photo.

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Maranao leaders called on President Rodrigo Duterte to not rub salt onto the deep wounds of the Maranao people as Duterte announced residents of Marawi City whose homes and properties fall inside the Military Reservation would be booted out.

Duterte announced Tuesday, January 30, that residents will be compensated when they are booted out of the reservation area.

The bulk of Marawi City is under military reservation under Presidential proclamation number 453, dated December 23, 1953. It established the Camp Keithley Military Reservation and was signed by then-President Elpidio Quirino.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will be building a new P400 million military headquarters which would cater to a battalion-sized army

Former Bangsamoro Transition Commissioner Samira Gutoc-Tomawis said Duterte communicated (to the Maranao) his position on Military Reservation. “Coordination is remanded to the state, there is a gap in consultation on critical local realities,” Tomawis said in a statement sent to Rappler.

“Though defense is a power by the President/Commander-in-Chief holding the AFP, the civilian sentiments must be reminded as per the constitution’s emphasis on civilian authority over military,” Tomawis added.

Tomawis said during the summit, “Preventing Violent Extremism: An Islamic Perspective,” the Marawi displacement bred misunderstanding. Such misunderstanding, Tomawis points out, cannot be resolved with more imposition.

Moro Consensus Group Chairman Drieza Lininding said the AFP doesn’t need a new military camp. since the government already signed peace agreements with the MNLF and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) with the MILF with the BBL now being deliberated in Congress.

Lininding said that they have raised the issue on Ancestral Domain under the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act ( Republic Act 8371).

“There is no military reservation to speak of, this was never acknowledged by us (Maranao) as a people. This is the very reason why revolutionary movements rose from the Moro people: the usurpation of our lands by settlers from Luzon and Visayas,” Lininding added.

What the government should do, according to Lininding, is to hasten the passage of the BBL to let the Moro people police their own communities.

“I believe that given the chance, we are more than capable to secure and defend our areas against lawless elements,” Lininding added.

Lininding also pointed out that the creation of the new camp could be, in his view, a violation of the CAB. The MILF should protest such creation.

Meanwhile, Joint Task Force Marawi deputy Commander Colonel Romeo Brawner said the new military camp will be capable of housing a battalion-strength force of at least 500 soldiers.

The facility will augment the already established Camp Ranao, the headquarters of the 103rd Infantry Brigade under the 1st Infantry Division.

The new battalion headquarters is expected to be completed in 2020. –