Duterte creates group to study creation of new military camp in Marawi

MANILA, Philippines – Despite strong opposition from thousands of people in Marawi City and Lanao del Sur, President Rodrigo Duterte formed a technical working group (TWG) to study the establishment of a military camp in Barangay Kapantaran, Marawi City.

Duterte ordered this through Memorandum Order (MO) No. 41 signed on Friday, November 15, and released to the media on Wednesday, November 20, laying down members of the TWG along with its powers and functions.

"To reinforce current efforts of the government to secure Marawi City and its neighboring areas, the President has dorected relevant government agencies to study the establishment of a military camp therein," reads the memorandum.

MO 41 makes officials from the following members part of the TWG:

What are the group's powers? There are 9 powers and functions laid out for the TWG which include the following:

Resident push back: Two years since fighting between government forces and pro-Islamic State (ISIS) Maute terror group ravaged the country's Islamic city, residents have been unable to return home with most of the city still in ruin.

The Maranao people of Lanao del Sur and its capital, Marawi, early on opposed plans to build new military camps as part of the government's program to reconstruct the city with more than 100,000 people signing a petition against the construction of military camps in the city.

However, the Philippine Army has since been able to secure writs of possession, or recovery orders from a legal court, for more than 10 hectares of land in barangays Caloocan East and Kapantaran in Marawi's most affected area (MAA), the city's commercial hub almost completely destroyed by the fighting.

The petitioners warned that increasing military presence in Marawi would go against the Maranao's cultural and religious sensitivities, and could lead to unrest.

Residents also argued the establishment of a second military camp was unnecessary, given the presence of Camp Ranao, headquarters of the Philippine Army's 103rd Infantry Brigade in the city. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.