By Ali G. Macabalang and Camcer Ordonez Imam
Iligan City – Lanao del Norte (2nd District) Rep. Abdullah Dimaporo on Sunday urged fellow Maranaos to keep up their resilience and protect Marawi City from further devastation by transient terror militants, saying the ruthless intruders are up for more attention and material support from the radical Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) leadership.
Rep. Dimaporo, son of the late former Lanao del Sur Governor Ali Dimaporo, pointed out that unabated attacks by intruding Abu Sayyaf forces could erode the cultural identity of the Maranaos and deface the stature of Marawi as the country’s lone Islamic City.
Resistance from Maranaos, especially those with armaments can come by way of cooperation with the government forces fighting the combined militants of the ISIS-inspired Abu Sayyaf and Maute groups.
“Get the phone numbers of military entities and provide information about the locations of the enemies,” Dimaporo told his fellow Maranaos in a 12-minute video message aired Sunday over a cable TV station based in Lanao Norte.
The video footage made mostly in Maranao dialect went viral since Sunday night on Facebook.
Dimaporo prodded the group of brothers Omar and Abdullah Maute, both native Maranaw, that Abu Sayyaf forces led by Isnilon Hapilon, an ISIS-anointed “emir” for the Philippines and Southeast Asia, are not concerned about the plight of the Maranaos and the city of Marawi.
“They (Abu Sayyaf forces) are after more money and further recognition from the ISIS organization. They will leave Marawi City when it turns into rubble completely,” the veteran Maranao lawmaker said in his emotional broadcast.
The Maute brothers’ maternal side belongs to the Romato political family in Lanao del Sur that ruled Butig town for almost two decades during the reign in the province of the congressman’s father, the late Gov. Ali Dimaporo.
Rep. Dimaporo said the military was forced to use heavy artilleries and aircrafts because the militants are armed with sophisticated guns that can hit objects from as far as one kilometer.
His remarks were short of asking fellow Maranaos to take up arms and fight the intruding Abu Sayyaf forces, who he said have been repulsed from Basilan and Sulu provinces by peace-loving residents affected by years of atrocities by the group.
During the national Independence Day commemoration on June 12, Marawi Mayor Majul Gandamra declared jihad against the militants, pledging to rally his constituents “up to the last breath.”
Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s commander Abdullah “Bravo” Macapaar had earlier urged the militants to pull out of Marawi, warning that his more than a thousand-strong group was in the brink of losing patience and is ready to fight them.
No mosque bombing
Meanwhile, peace and rights advocates have lauded the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) leadership for clarifying an earlier statement by a military spokesman that bomber planes are ready to hit mosques allegedly serving as hideout of militant snipers in this war-torn city.
“It’s appeasing, especially among sectors privy to rules of engagement,” said an official assisting International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) humanitarian interventions here.
They were referring to AFP Chief of Staff Eduardo Año’s order for troops to “respect (the) places of worship” in trying to flush out the extremist guerillas from this war-ravaged city.
On the basis of Gen. Año’s order, AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said last Wednesday that Air Force aircrafts and ground artilleries will no longer target mosques and masjids that IS guerillas are using as hiding places.
Padilla urged Muslims to suppress the talk on the military’s supposed bombing of their place of worship, assuring the certainty of the AFP leadership’s preventive order.
Central Mindanao-based civil society groups comprising of Muslim, Christian and lumad sectors had already prepared separate statement condemning the local military establishment, Joint Task Force Marawi spokesman Army Lt. Col. Jo-Ar Herrera for his “imprudent” statement suggesting the bombardment of mosques.
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