TURNING POINT: Finger-pointing on the Marawi Debacle

NAAWAN, Misamis Oriental (MindaNews / 26 Nov) — The war had ended a month ago, but the finger-pointing continues.  Some Maranao blame the government for the devastation of their homeland and the ruin of their lives.  In fact, a group is poised to file a class suit against the government for what happened. Many kibitzers, on the other hand, blame the Maranao people for the Marawi debacle. In their comfort zone, they echo the President, who,while apologizing earlier for the war, castigated at the same time  the Maranao community for their inaction, neglect or omission that caused the rise to power of the ISIS-inspired, drug-financed Maute terrorist group right in the heart of  the Lanao Sur capital that led to the catastrophic war.

Accordingly, the local officials and the people have done nothing on the proliferation of the drug trade in the place, the support of the drug lords to the Maute terrorists, the stockpiling of high-powered arms and the construction of bunkers or tunnels right in their midst. In short, If the Islamic City of Marawi is now reduced to rubble and the hundreds of thousands of residents have become displaced and homeless, they have no one to blame but themselves; they deserve it.

But come to think of it, if the government is aware from the start of the drug personalities in the place and the support they had provided to the terrorists, why have they not been “tokhanged” or neutralized,  for good? If the government was aware of the terrorist build-up in the city, why was there no effort to stop them before they could launch a very costly drawn-out war? If the President was aware five months earlier of the impending Maute attack of the city, why did he allow it happen?

What participation was expected of the Maranao community on the war against the home-grown terrorists and the war on illegal drugs given the government information on the matter?

Certainly, it is not to bear arms against the enemy of the State in support of its security forces; the risk is too high and unmanageable. To rat on the enemy, on the other hand, is asking the impossible because the terrorists or the drug personalities could be members of their close-knit clan where blood is the strongest determining factor in the most demanding of transactions.

It appears there was really nothing the Maranao could do given the circumstances but to stay at the side line because to do anything would amount to betrayal of either side (the enemy and the government’s agents) and could invite more and possibly endless bloodletting. The Maranao are in Catch 22 situation – caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.

It is high time to stop blaming the victims or the victors, if any, of the infamous Marawi war. The biggest challenge at the moment is  to raise the city from the rubble and rebuild in the most judicious way the broken lives of the Maranao. Great amount of energy, understanding and cooperation is needed to accomplish this herculean task. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. William R. Adan, Ph.D., is retired professor and former chancellor of Mindanao State University at Naawan, Misamis Oriental)