The US-Duterte regime’s control over Marawi keeps Moro residents suffering in the fringes

Press Statement | 28 February 2018

Hundreds of thousands of Marawi residents have been displaced by the fighting. Credit Jes Aznar for The New York Times

Nearly half a year has passed since Duterte declared Marawi City “liberated,” yet thousands of Bangsamoro evacuees continue to agonize over the loss and destruction of homes and livelihood in the aftermath of the US-Duterte regime’s brutal five-month siege led by its AFP and PNP forces. Evidently, no significant rehabilitation effort by the regime that truly serves the interests and needs of the evacuees is underway.

With a greater part of the city still in ruins, most Moro and non-Moro residents suffer in temporary settlements as they are housed either in government- issued makeshift tents or left languishing in dilapidated lodgings, which the reactionary government deliberately employed to keep most of them situated along the city’s fringes or outer limits.

The process by which these residents are supposedly enabled to return to their homes is remarkably slow. Apparently, the Duterte regime has no real plan to restore them to their original residences. Worse, the so-called ‘renters’ – or those who are not native to Marawi City — will have no chance whatsoever to return to where they resided before.

In the meantime, the reactionary government, together with its puppet local government led by Marawi Mayor Majul Gandamra, as well as the AFP, now usurp the right to decide who gets to return or not to the city, with which favors predominantly members of the Moro ruling class and the political allies of Duterte. Ironically, they are instead hell-bent on expediting the building of a housing project and a new military camp for the AFP/PNP.

Under an extended martial law, this grand maneuver has the hallmarks of a classic “divide and rule” tactic, to ensure on one hand that the pro-administration Moro ruling clique stay loyal to Duterte. And that, on the other, the thousands of Bangsamoro residents who were forcibly driven away by Duterte’s destructive war will not possess the opportunity as well as the capacity to rise up in militant dissent.

While shortchanging the Moro people in broad daylight, Marawi City has been sold to big bourgeois compradors, such as the Ayalas, the Uys and other big shots of big business. They wait in earnest for the rise of their newest profit-making venture in Marawi and other parts of Lanao del Sur. Duterte is still having a field day enticing foreign capitalists, particularly from the US, China and Russia to invest in Marawi and widen their profit margin in the near future, at the expense of deprived and displaced Moro people.

Despite the existence of Camp Ranao, Duterte will allot 10 hectares of the city’s prime land for the AFP. The purpose of which is to ensure that the US-Duterte regime’s “grand plan” for Marawi City stays on course, especially since martial law is still in effect. A new brigade under the 4th ID will also be deployed possibly in Marawi City or Lanao del Sur in order to tighten Duterte’s control of the area.

This will surely turn for the worse should the US-Duterte regime enforce an antiquated presidential decree, PD 453 to be exact, which grants more than six thousand hectares of Marawi land to be used as a military reservation for the United States Armed Forces, which, if implemented, is given more leverage to launch its own “anti-terrorist” operations in the island and in the entire country.

To shield this grand scheme from any setback, Duterte has placed the MILF leadership in a stranglehold and kept the BIAF Moro fighters at bay by promising the passage of the BBL. He claims it will take place possibly even before his plan of amending the 1987 Cory constitution that will pave the way for the establishment of the federal government. This, of course, is only to pacify inflamed Bangsamoro who, in the first place, lost their most important city because of the reactionary government’s relentless attacks.

Sadly for Mindanaoans, the first ever president who hails from Mindanao and brags about his Moro blood is also the first ever to have the gall to destroy a whole city in Mindanao and persecute the Bangsamoro and other Mindanaoans to no end.

Thus, the Bangsamoro has no other recourse but to unite under the aim of continuing both the armed and non-armed struggle against the US-Duterte regime and fight for their genuine right to self-determination.

The hundreds of thousands of residents of Marawi must stand together and press the Duterte regime to implement genuine and speedy rehabilitation, and that all of them must be restored back to their rightful residences and paid in full for all the damages caused by the state’s war of destruction.#

Ka Joaquin Jacinto