OUR MARAWI: Your Honors, please ask us, what do we feel?

Downtown Marawi City one sunny afternoon circa 2004, before all the devastation due to the fires and the aerial bombings no thanks to the still ongoing skirmishes between government forces and the Maute Group that caused the evacuation of most of the city’s population. MindaNews photo by BOBBY TIMONERA

(Samira Ali Gutoc  delivered this brief speech at the Joint Session of Congress to deliberate on the extension of martial law on Saturday, 22 July 2017 when Senator Grace Poe called on her to give a situationer on the Marawi Crisis which entered Day 61 that day).

I am Samira Gutoc. I’m from Bangon, Basak Malutlut. beside the confrontation area (of government forces and the Maute Group) on May 23

Sir, Sir Ano (Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Ano). I was a member of the Civil Society Multisectoral Advisory Board.

Sir, on the second week … of the crisis, Abdulhalim, a special child or a mental retard, 20 years old, was brought to Ranao Rescue Team by his mother. The child was brought to the hospital because the mother claims that the child, so-called 20 year old so called child because he was mentally retarded, hinulugan po ng mainit na tubig ang kamay after being found in Saduc area of Marawi. He was psychologically interrogated if Maute (Group member) sya. He was also, may isang baril po daw na inano sa kamay nya. We have photos. Madame Senator,  Sir President, on this.

Second case: Mr. Pandag, among 26 men, he, upon being rescued by men in uniform in a location after the bridge of the rescue area, they were asked to remove their tee-shirts, blidnfold themselves and walk. Walk blindfolded. And may narinig sila na baril Ma’m, Sir Senator, Sir President. May isang, sinabi ng boses ng isang authority, “maghukay na kayo ng inyong libingan,” Ma’am Senator, Sir President.

I am from Marawi City, Your Honors. Please ask us, what do we feel? Please ask us, how do we, how do we stand up and arise? Twenty bodies are in Capin Funeral (Homes in Iligan City). One hundred days, or almost 60 days, not buried.

What if it was your grandfather na hindi po nilibing? Sa Islam one day lang po, hindi pwede, bawal sa Islam, the highest form of prohibition and taboo.

Sorry Senate President, hindi po pwedeng iwanan na hindi buried ang katawan Sir Ano… because this is a war. Of course it’s national security but every five days, Senate President, Ma’am Senator, our rescue volunteers bury a baby. Nanigas daw ang isang baby sa Iligan hospital.

Ilang beses pong inenjectionan dahil sa..  hindi alam ng mother why she was injected several times and lumabas ang baby po naninigas na daw. She was sharing a bed with three women in the charity ward.  Yes, libre po ang hospital but we are in charity wards.

Women are … every second …  May isang pong naghubad sa evacuation center.*  In Islam, bawal po ang maghubad, kaya po kami nakaganito, nakacover ang face ng iilan. Bawal po makita ang katawan namin, ang suso namin, ang aming panty. Umalis kami sa mga bahay namin walag panty na dala, Madame Senator, Sir President.

I am sorry I have to speak for 250,000 people and 400,000 Maranaos scattered all over the country.

Two pregnant women in Pagadian were asked, taken in by the PNP (Philippine National Police) at the City Government of Pagadian office because they were holding in their baggage a dextrose. Bawal po ba ang dextrose sa isang buntis na babae? Because ang faith healer niya nagsabi ‘may dextrose ka dapat baka manganak ka.’

They were taken in for a whole day of questioning Sir President, Madam Seantor.

Do I still have seconds?

(*MindaNews checked with Ms Gutoc on this case and she said the woman was suffering mentally).

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Samira Ali Gutoc-Tomawis, Ll.B., co-founder of the Young Moro Professionals resigned as Commissioner of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission in late May, days after the Marawi Crisis started, citing personal reasons and policy questions. Samira is one of the organizers of the Ranao Rescue Team, a group set up to respond to the crisis. She had earlier served as an  assemblywoman, women sector, of the Regional Legislative Assembly, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and was former director, Al-Amanah Islamic Bank, Inc. and former director of the Marawi Resort Hotel, Inc.)