MAMASAPANO, Maguindanao (MindaNews/31 March) – Graduates of a public high school in this town received an unexpected cash bonus of P5,000 each from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) on their commencement program Monday.
The 49 graduates of Hadhi Salik Kalaing National High School in Barangay Tukanalipao, site of the bloody encounter on Jan. 25 between government forces and various Moro armed groups, received the amount from ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman, their guest speaker.
“This amount is for your enrolment in college because I believe your education must continue through college,” Hataman said in his speech.
All the graduates and their families were among the roughly 120,000 individuals who were displaced when government forces launched an “all-out offensive” against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
The offensive terminated Monday as announced by Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Gregorio Pio Catapang.
Aside from the P5,000 cash, the top 10 honor students became scholars of the ARMM regional government.
In her valedictory address, Norambai Utto became emotional and cried for peace.
“We want peace, give us peace, we want peace in our land not only for us but the generations to come,” she said in between sobs.
“Do not lose hope. Peace will finally prevail in your communities. Help in your own little way, so peace will reign in our land,” Hataman said in Filipino.
“We ought to thank the Philippine military for taking care of the civilians, ensuring they are safe before offensives were launched against lawless elements,” he said.
The governor said the people of Maguindanao should be happy they have an Army division commander, Maj. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, who did not order indiscriminate offensives that could have killed innocent civilians.
“We should thank him because he is for peace.Tthe military supports the Mindanao peace process, thus in the recent operations against lawless elements, no civilians were hurt or killed as a result of Army offensives,” Hataman said.
He also urged the parents and the graduates as well as the people of Mamasapano not to be carried by their emotions but consider the recent events as a challenge for the future of Maguindanao. (Ferdinandh Cabrera/MindaNews)