The difficulties thousands of Maranaos have been going through in the last four years, and the government’s failure to fulfill its promises, are causing unrest and could breed future terrorists, a former Lanao official said.
“People are hungry and hurting. The conditions are really bad. This is the perfect formula to create a new terror group,” Sarapida Pacasum Jr. said over DxIF-Bombo Radyo on Sunday, May 23, the fourth anniversary of the start of the Marawi siege.
Pacasum was the leader of a Lanao del Sur provincial capitol team that launched a rescue mission during the first days of the siege in 2017.
On ANC’s Dateline Philippines on Saturday, May 22, another Maranao leader, Norodin Alonto Lucman, warned about the thousands of loose firearms in the Lanao area.
“What if people started using these against the government?” he asked.
Lucman, a former deputy governor of the Muslim autonomous region, said the government failed in meeting its self-imposed deadlines to rebuild Marawi.
“I think the next administration will inherit a big, big problem,” Lucman told ANC. “I hope the next president will be adequately briefed” so government could address the problem in Marawi.
Pacasum, himself among the internally displaced living in temporary shelters, said nothing much has changed in Marawi City since the 2017 fightings.
“It’s still the same, and the rehabilitation efforts are very slow,” he said. Pacasum had also headed the provincial disaster risk reduction management office in 2017.
He said the COVID-19 pandemic aggravated the situation in areas where government set up temporary shelters.
“Neighbors are fighting each other because of stress. It’s taking a toll on their mental health,” he said. “They lost their homes and livelihood, and until now, all they have are temporary shelters.”
Pacasum warned about a new group of terrorists that he said could rise “in a year or two” because Maranaos were getting angry.
“Those who live in temporary shelters, for instance, were promised a water system a year ago. Hanggang ngayon wala pa (It’s still not there). I am not happy with what I’m seeing. The longer it takes, the more problems will arise,” he said.
“There’s no water system in place. There’s no electricity. The electric poles are not even there,” said Lucman.
What’s worse, Lucman added, was the government’s position to prevent Maranaos from returning and rebuilding from the 2017 ruins of Marawi.
“They were offended…. The Maranao IDPs (internally displaced people) can rebuild on their own. They do not need government support to do that,” Lucman said.
On his Facebook account on Sunday, May 23, Lucman shared a post from 2019, written on the siege’s second anniversary: “Marawi burned on this day…undefended and helpless and whatever honor and dignity is left was taken away by the people who caused its destruction. Ranao (Lanao) will never see the light of day for a long time to come unless God forgives us and leads us to greater Jihad.” – Rappler.com