ILIGAN CITY (MindaNews/30 May) — Despite the burning of the historic Dansalan College (DC) in Marawi City and even if some of its employees are being held hostage by the Maute Group, the school’s president expressed that they exhausted all measures possible to secure their constituents.
DC President Fedelina Tawagon said in a statement that they have fully informed all members of the board of trustees, all concerned authorities, government officials, church leaders, friends, partners in mission and service, institutional associations and organizations in which the college is a member, alumni, and other concerned persons that the school was under attack.
“Employees and students were instructed to grab the first opportunity to get out of the situation; to seize the rare moment for escape. Text messages were sent. Vehicles of the school and of the neighbor were utilized to transport them [during the height of the attack],” she said.
But still, some of the college’s employees were taken by the armed group.
Tawagon said they sought help from their friends in the military and other personalities, as well as observed discretion in answering unknown calls and messages.
Without naming names, the school official hit those whose acts “seem to derail efforts at fighting terrorism” and those who remain insensitive to the feelings of others.”
The Maute group abducted some DC employees at the height of clashes in Marawi. But she did not name the victims.
“We call for sobriety and understanding. Our efforts are concentrated on saving life. We express with indignation the irresponsible posting of fake news, gory photos, and insensitive comments that sow panic, rekindle animosity, trigger hatred, create confusion and even divide families, friends and people of same faith,” she said.
Hamiddullah Atar, sultan of Marawi and executive director of the non-government organization RIDO Inc. said local leaders were tapped to help negotiate rescue the hostages, including Fr. Teresito “Chito” Suganob, the Catholic vicar in the city.
The Maute group burned the Catholic church in Marawi before taking away Suganob and some church workers.
The priest used to serve as chaplain in Mindanao State University and became known for his efforts in interfaith dialogue.
“When they torched Dansalan College and St. Mary’s Church, they also burned off intergenerational collective wisdom and religious tolerance. Dansalan College is a major repository of research materials on Mindanao culture and history. St. Mary’s Cathedral is a living testament of the Muslim’s respect of the minority Christians. Both serve as venues of events for inter-cultural and inter-faith dialogues for social justice, sustainable development and lasting peace in Mindanao. I attended several of these activities while I was a student and an instructor of Mindanao State University from 1989 to 1997,” said lawyer Charlo Paredes, a History graduate of MSU Marawi.
“What happened in Marawi is really sad but it should not discourage us from continuing our peacebuilding work,” Carino Antequisa, another MSU Marawi alumnus said.
“The torching of Dansalan College and St. Mary’s Church are just recent events within the long history of clash of cultures. This happens when one culture dominates the other. For radicals, Dansalan College and St. Mary’s church are symbols of the dominant western culture that continued to influence the Muslim culture,” he said.
Regina Salvador, executive director of Ecoweb Inc. lamented that the violence in Marawi has destroyed “decades of work, efforts and aspirations and even a century
of accumulated knowledge.” (Violeta M. Gloria/MindaNews)