Maranaos donate money to MILF ‘martyrs’ during pro-BBL rally

MARAWI CITY (MindaNews / 10 Feb) – At first, the money came in trickles. Coins, P20 bills, then P50 bills.

Then as suddenly as it started, everyone was throwing bills of P100, P500 and even P1,000 to the striped blue, green and white tarpaulin laid on the ground of Plaza Cabili in Banggolo in the heart of downtown Marawi.

As a group of women hurriedly counted the money, cries of “Allahu Akbar” rang through out the park by hundreds of young boys, girls and residents who have trooped to the plaza to participate in the Bangsamoro National Day of Mourning rally on Tuesday.

“They are our Shaheed (martyrs). They died for us and the Bangsamoro,” rally organizer Achmad Lao said of the 18 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters and four civilians who died in the Mamasapano clash, wherein 44 Philippine National Police Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) troopers also died.

Lao said they collected P50,000 and several thousands more in pledges during the three-hour rally.

He said a similar fund drive was simultaneously launched in the nearby town of Baloi, Lanao del Norte.

“Kahit piso-piso lang we can gather enough money to the families of the slain MILF fighters and civilians who died in the Mamasapano clash,” Lao said, pointing to a group of children giving their “baon” to the cause.

“We cannot afford the millions that is given to the SAF 44 but we want to tell the families of our martyrs they are not forgotten,” he said.

Lao said they will also give money to the two slain members of the raiding PNP-SAF team who are Muslims.

Hundreds of Marawi residents participated in the peace rally.

Speaker after speaker urged for Congress to hasten the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) which they said has became one of the casualties of the Jan. 25 Mamasapano clash.

“This is our last stand to peace. We urge Congress to hasten the passage of the proposed BBL. It should not be a casualty of the Mamasapano incident,” Marawi community leader Agakhan Sharief said. Sharief has earned the moniker “Bin Ladin” not just because of his moustache and beard, but also because of his stance on issues confronting the Moro people.

He warned that the delaying of the passage of the BBL will further increase the prospects of a full-blown war between the military and the MILF.

He said the BBL is the only chance for peace and they appealed to Congress to see its reason.

Sharief and other leaders also reiterated that Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan was not hiding in Lanao del Sur as alleged by the police and military.

Sultan Nasrodin Adu, of the Royale house of Mindanao, said the PNP-SAF came to their town in Butig, Lanao del Sur in 2013 but did not find Marwan.

He said he is saddened with the wave of anti-Muslim sentiments following the clash in Mamasapano.

“We also lost a few. The SAF was not alone,” Adu said.

Simultaneous rallies urging Congress to pass the BBL were held in the key Mindanao cities of Tacurong, Cotabato, Davao and General Santos. Similar rallies were also held in the towns of Pikit in North Cotabato, Baloi in Lanao del Norte, Bongao in Tawi-tawi, and Jolo in Sulu.

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