OUR MARAWI: Give us IDPs peace of mind

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[Message delivered by retired Professor Dalomabi Lao Bula, representing Marawi’s internally displaced persons (IDPs) during the program after the ‘Solidarity Peace Walk for Marawi’ of the Bangsamoro CSO Leaders’ Peace Summit on 19 February 2018 at the Mindanao State University in Marawi City)

Bismillahir rahmanir rahiim.
Assalamo alaikom warahmatola hiwabarakatoho.

Greetings of peace. May all of us who are gathered today, with the help of Allah (swt) feel the real essence of peace and be able to internalize its meaning so that each one of us will love each other as brothers or sisters.

I am very greatful to Allah (swt) that I was given a very limited time to air few of the many mixed feelings of the IDPs, na kanilang kinikimkim sa kanilang mga puso, haunting them for almost nine months.

Tayo po ay nagtipon-tipon ngayon dahil sa kapayapaan at dahil dito, we are asking the powers that be, to give us IDPs peace of mind by giving us concrete, acceptable, culture sensitive and immediate solutions to our lamentations.

Ilang IDPs po, galing sa Ground Zero ang naghihinagpis, because of the inhuman devastation of Marawi City, ng dahil sa air strike. There are thousands of us. We are still silently crying in pain, in the corners of others’ houses as bakwit in Iligan and Cagayan de Oro. Paglabas namin, iba ang tingin nila sa amin, masasama kaming tao, di lang nakakatakot kundi terorista!

We feel so degraded because even the hospitalization assistance ay pinutol mula nong Nov. 26 dahil wala nang budget ang Department of Health para sa aming mga IDPs. Paano kami magkakaroon ng inner peace, saan kami kukuha ng hugot? Binabangongot kami ng Marawi Siege!

We read on the newspapers, see on TV screen, hear over the radio, not only millions but billions of money coming in for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Marawi. Where are the billions spent? NFA rice, low-quality sardines, coffee and noodles? For nine months?

Alhamdulillah! Nakabalik na yung mga taga cleared areas at patuloy na tumatanggap ng pinagsawaang sardinas. Pero kami sa Ground Zero, iniiyakan namin na makita man lang ang aming mga bahay at makuha kung mayroon pang natitirang gamit, ay ipinagkaka-it pa sa amin. But the irony of it, nauna pa ang outsiders makapasok kaysa sa amin, like investors, donors, politicians, showbiz people, and others — all in the name of business and money, ang sakit! It is safe for them to enter ground zero, but unsafe for the IDPs kasi mayroon pang mga posibling sumabog. What a glaring manifestation, to my mind, of discrimination, inequality and human rights violation.

The NEDA (National Economic and Development Authority) Comprehensive Plan for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Marawi will be presented for consultation very soon. When the plan was planned, kasama po ba kami sa pagplano para sa aming mga IDPs? Makakapagsalita ba at pakikinggan kaming IDPs sa consultation? Magkano kaya kung mayron man ang assistance para sa winasak na mga kabahayan namin, na kasamang gumuho ang aming mga pangarap para sa kinabukasan ng aming mga anak? There is a plan for shelter to relocation sites, meaning, pinapaalis kami sa mga lupa na kinatatayuan ng aming mga bahay. What a pity!

The 400M budget for the military camp which had its ground breaking last Jan. 30 on a hill in Brgy. Kapantaran, is not at all a solution to violent extremism. The call of the hour now is for us, the IDPs or Bakwit, to be returned to our homes. Why not allocate those millions to our devastated dwellings, give us, and not loan, livelihood assistance and we will do the rest for our pagbangon, with the guidance of Allah(swt).

Why does the government talk about land tittles, land use, and getting military reservations, when we lived in our lands since birth? Land titling can wait, let the IDPs go back and rebuild their shuttered dreams and settle whatever obligations they have to the government, later. Bakit sa katagal-tagal ng panahon ngayon lang ito hinalungkat? It is untimely and inhuman! Public structures ang uunahin. Who will make use of those structures kung walang tao? Our wounds are still fresh and bleeding. Give us justice and equal treatment with the so-called majority and peace will reign throughout the land, In Sha Allah.

Hindi namin ginusto ang Marawi Siege. Hindi makata-o ang pagpapasabog sa aming mga kabahayan. The use of 500 and 200 pounder bombs ay masyadong nakakapagtaka! Ang pagka flatten ng 24 barangays ay pinipilit kong intindihin, kong bakit? What made the bombs necessary?

How can we have peace of mind with all of those unanswered questions? Peace does not only mean the absence of conflict or armed struggle. Each one of us should feel peace within so that peace will radiate outside us.

Sa mga LGUs (local government units) po namin, you abandoned us during the Siege, specifically sa first few weeks. Wala kayong nagawa para di kami lumikas, para di namin iwan ang aming mga kabahayan. Wala kaming narinig na kahit ano pa man. We had no one to run to sa kasagsagan ng Siege.

But look at MSU, we salute President Macaayong for a job well done. Agad-agad nakapagplano sila. Na mobilize ni Pres. Macaayong ang mga tauhan niya. They talked with the students, faculty and staff, and the residents, not to leave the campus. Nakipag-coordinate siya sa military, the MSU officials were visible, talking with everyone in the campus. Hindi nila pinabayaan o iniwan ang kanilang constituents, kaya ito! Balik sa normal ang MSU. We talk about peace and the BBL kasi andito pa ang MSU. Bakit di yon nagawa sa downtown Marawi para hindi naging war zone?

Sa Congress at Senate, napag-usapan at pinag-uusapan yong mga biktima ng drugs, o napapatay dahil sa drugs. Ang Marawi Siege ba, na nabugbug ng human rights violation ay naipaabot ninyo sa Congress at Senate? Wala kaming naging boses at masandalan. Kawawang Meranaw!

Hindi tayo nagsisisihan, binabalikan lang ang mga pangyayari para tayo ay maka pulot ng lessons na siyang maging daan para magkaroon ng kapayapaan, In Sha Allah.

I speak for the IDPs, who are Muslims, whose religion is Islam which means peace. We detest being associated with terrorist for we will never be terrorist because we are peace loving lake dwellers.

Let me end, with this very short poem which I was able to compose sa kasagsagan ng Siege.

Meranaw Ako
Dalomabi Lao Bula

Meranaw ako
Ingarang ko a Ranaw.
So Ranaw a rangkamanis,
A piyagiyasaano Allah (swt)
Sa pimbarang a pageper.

Ranaw a paramanis o inged,
A lama lama o Meranaw.
Dii isusungowa, dii itutukawa,
Dii pagalataan, dii kuyakuyaan
O dalem o pagilidan.

Meranaw ako.
Pimbiat ko maratabat ko inged go bangensa,
Kambilangataw go kambayorantang ko Allah,
Tindeg ko agama nago rugo,
A da sangkop ko ridoay.

Meranaw ako.
Pagalongan ko kalilintad go kambilangataw,
Rawaten ko pimbarang a ilmo.
Saken so Meranaw sa Ranaw
A kena o ba terorista.

Meranaw ako.
Ingoma ka kalombayan,
A panginam o Meranaw,
Di ipangonot so kabinasa
O paninggalan a inged.

Meranaw ako.
Magendod ko kadenan.
Inao kalombayan, katero o Rasol: So Moslim
Na di senong ko mangarasi.

Asalamo alaikom.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. OUR Marawi is open to anyone who wishes to share his/her thoughts on what is happening in the country’s lone Islamic City. Dr. Dalomabi Lao Bula, 66, retired as Professor of Literature in the main campus of the Mindanao State University in Marawi City in 2014).

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