DAVAO CITY (MindaNews /26 August) — A Facebook post from ARMM Vice Governor Al Haroun Raschid Lucman, Jr. late Friday night has given focus to yet another dimension in the now 96-day war in Marawi City: young boys alleged to have been recruited by the Maute Group and photographed brandishing firearms could be children kidnapped years ago or reported missing since the firefight between government forces and the IS-inspired terror group began on May 23.
Lucman’s post showed two photographs — a toddler wearing a white sando and a young boy in black, carrying a long firearm.
“A mother posted this in the FB saying the toddler on the left side was her son who went missing several years ago. She felt the child combatant on the right side is strikingly similar to (her) missing son… IF THERE IS ANYONE WHO CAN HELP, IF EVER HE IS STILL ALIVE, PLEASE DO.. Please share so that it will hopefully reach those who can help..,” Lucman said.
A post from the Facebook page “This Kid is Missing” set up by Rohanisa Abdul Jabbar, sought help after seeing a photograph of three boys brandishing long firearms, smiling and posing for the cameras, allegedly in Marawi City, one of whom had facial features similar to her son who was kidnapped on July 4, 2010, when he was three years old.
“Pa help naman,” (please help), Rohanisa wrote. “Kamukha ba sya ni Ramram … nahirapan ako kilalanin ang Anak ko Nahiwalay sa akin nang pitong taon.. Kung Ganun.. ISIS NA pala sya kung gnaun?? ALLAH KNOWS kung saan tlaga sya naroroon” (Does he look like Ramram? It’s hard to recognize my son who has been missing for seven years now.. he is now with ISIS? Allah knows where my child is),” the mother wrote. She appealed to readers to share the post so it could reach the show of a famous television personality.
The Facebook page also showed an announcement of a reward offered for information on the missing Ram-Ram Abdul Jabbar Cabugatan, also known as Azramie Mangondacan as recorded on his birth certificate.
Rohanisa told MindaNews in a telephone interview on Saturday morning that she may have found her son, if indeed that boy carrying a firearm was her missing son, but she may have lost him to the Maute Group.
In another Facebook post, Dman Tomawis Rasuman wrote that the boy on the right side of the photograph, is his nephew whom he last saw on May 24 in Marawi City.
Rasuman, a businessman and a Tabligh, denied the boy was a member of the terrorist group. “Pamangkin ko po yan at hindi po yan ISIS or MAUTE” (He is my nephew and he is not a member of the ISIS or Maute).
He said the boy, around 11 years old, knows nothing about guns or what the war in Marawi is all about. “Wala po yng alam sa baril at wala din yang alam sa pakikipag digmaan,” he said.
“Maawa kayo at matagal ng pinaghahanap yan” (Please have pity, we have been looking for that boy), Rasuman said, as he identified the boy as Alinor “Mayor” Usman.
“Pls tulungan nyo po sya na maka alis sa grupo ng ISIS or MAUTE ako na po ang maggagrantiya sa kanya na hindi nya gawain or lehitimong membro ng ISIS or MAUTE plsss HELP US!” (Please help rescue him from the ISIS or Maute. I will guarantee he is not a member of the ISIS or Maute. Please help us,” Rasuman said.
Alinor’s grandfather is the brother of Rasuman’s mother.
Rasuman told MindaNews in a telephone interview Saturday morning that they have not heard from Alinor, his younger sister Aina and their father who resided in Barangay Lilod Madaya in Marawi City but stayed with them in the first two days of the Marawi war on May23 and 24. That was the last time Rasuman saw them.
Alinor’s and Aina’s father was a carpenter, their mother was killed in a vehicular accident in Baclaran a few years ago and they lived with their stepmother. They were not sent to school.
Rasuman said they evacuated to Cagayan de Oro City on May 26.
He said he is afraid Alinor and his family may have been among those taken hostage by the Maute Group and that his nephew and other children hostages may have been brainwashed by the Maute.
Rasuman thinks Alinor’s father may not have survived because if he did, he could have prevented his son from carrying a firearm. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)