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Lanao del Sur gov’t urges Duterte to reconsider new military camp in Marawi

Bobby Lagsa
Lanao del Sur gov’t urges Duterte to reconsider new military camp in Marawi
Echoing the sentiments of Marawi residents, the provincial government urges President Duterte to review or modify the plan 'taking into account the social and cultural sensitivities of the community'

CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – The Lanao del Sur provincial government has asked President Rodrigo Duterte to reconsider plans to set up another military camp in Marawi City.

The provincial government posted its resolution on its Facebook page on Tuesday, December 3, two weeks after Duterte signed Memorandum Order No. 41 directing various government agencies to conduct a feasibility study on creating a  new military camp in Marawi.

The resolution urged the President “to reconsider the proposed establishment of a new military camp at ground zero, or at least modify the same, taking into account the social and cultural sensitivities of the community,” 

The Provincial Government headed by Governor Mamintal Adiong Jr, Vice Governor Mohammad Khalid Adiong, and the provincial board members signed the resolution which will be sent to Duterte through Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Interim Minister  Murad Ebrahim.

Provincial officials urged the President to take into account “social and cultural” sensitivities in deciding on building a military camp in Marawi’s Most Affected Area or ground zero.

“Culturally, ground zero is more than a piece of land where houses and commercial buildings are built and erected. More importantly, it is the burial ground for the dead as well. Excavating these burial sites is desecrating the dead,” the resolution said.

“From a social and cultural perspective, a new military camp may create animosity and hostility towards the military, offend cultural sensitivities, and transgress private rights…. History teaches us that these are the lands which our valiant ancestors fought for and defended from foreign invaders,” it added.

‘Expand’ Kampo Ranao instead

The provincial officials asked that Kampo Ranao, the headquarters of the 103rd Infantry Brigade, be expanded and modernized instead.

The officials “strongly propose, in order to prudently allocate public funds, prevent transgression of private rights and value cultural sensitivities without compromising peace and order across the city and around the province, that a significant number of fortified military detachments be scattered over strategic areas at ground zero, while the existing Kampo Ranao be expanded, if necessary, and modernized.”

They also said that the funds for the new military camp would be better used “to augment the much needed funds for the rehabilitation of Marawi City.”

More than 100,000 people from Marawi City and Lanao del Sur province had earlier signed a petition asking Duterte to halt the plan.

Marawi was razed to the ground after local terrorists allied with ISIS (Islamic State or IS) attacked the city on May 23, 2017, sparking a siege that lasted for 5 months. Mindanao has been under martial law since then.

The military wants to establish a camp in the eastern part of the city where the old city hall is located, which is also part of the MAA. It is currently occupied by troops from the 103rd Infantry Brigade of the 1st Infantry Division.

‘Small camp’

Last week, Task Force Bangon Marawi Chairman Eduardo del Rosario clarified that the planned military camp would just be a “small” 10-hectare camp.

Del Rosario, who chairs the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, said that there is a misconception about the size of the planned camp which would just be a battalion camp under the command of the 103rd IB.

“There is a misconception there as if we are creating another brigade headquarters. We are just putting a small military facility that will provide command and control for a battalion that will house about 120 soldiers,” Del Rosario said.

He also allayed the fears of residents that a new camp would lead to rights abuses, noting that the soldiers to be deployed there would be the ones who were already in the area.

“It’s just 103rd’s own soldiers that would be put there for the physical presence so that we can put the stop to the entry of lawless elements, ISIS, as well as stop the selling and trading of drugs,” Del Rosario said.

Del Rosario said he believed that the new military was “really needed” but that hte task force would “yield to the decision of the DND as the chair of the committee and the recommendation of the AFP,” referring to the technical working group headed by the Department of National Defense under MO 41. –