MARAWI CITY: Kidnappings and other illegal activities have put a stain on the face of this city as well as the province of Lanao del Norte.
The areas that once enjoyed the generous support of the government and the international Islamic community have been blacklisted because of a string of crimes that has left local residents worried.
The last straw came on January 29, 2010 with the kidnapping of Arabian missionary Najib Al-Udayni. Since then, the once prosperous province that has enjoyed the support of various Muslim groups abroad has been ignored lately.
“I cannot confirm the blacklist but it is true that our organization is no longer receiving funds from Arab countries since the kidnapping of Al-Udayni,” Arabic professor Okhti Dimaporo told The Manila Times in local dialect here on Wednesday.
Al-Udayni, a Yemeni missionary and member of a United Arab Emirates-based Muslim religious organization that has been serving Lanao del Sur for more than 31 years, was inspecting religious projects in Lanao del Sur when he was abducted by unidentified armed men.
The missionary was released on February 8, 2010 at the boundary of Talakag, Bukidnon and Tagoloan 2, Lanao del Sur near the province of Lanao del Norte. Military officials credited the release without any ransom paid to negotiations made by then Lanao del Sur 1st District Rep. Faisah Dumarpa.
Previously, Dimaporo said the Maranaos enjoyed the support of the government and international Muslim communities in funding important activities, the establishment of Islamic schools and masjid (mosques), and other religious activities.
The Markazos Shabab al-Muslim Fil Filibbin Inc. (Muslim Youth Center in the Philippines) of which Dimaporo is a member, had previously assisted foreign-funded development projects in the region, including the establishment of Arabic and English integrated schools and mosques.
“After the incident, many of our Ulama [Muslim scholars] pursued different activities and this created factions among members of our organization. Many joined other political groups,” Dimaporo said.
Dimaporo and her fellow Ustaja (female Muslim professors) said Dumarpa and other negotiators should have captured Al-Udayni’s abductors and their mastermind in the name of justice since the kidnapping left a bad taste in the mouth of the region.
Sources said some Muslim leaders like Alim Ameroddin Sarangani and Alim Jalalodden Sarangani joined a protesting group called Sautol Haqq or Voice of Truth whose members include Faisah’s husband Atty. Salic Dumarpa and Lanao del Sur Electric Cooperative (Lasureco) Manager Ashary Maongco who ran against incumbent elected officials in Lanao del Sur led by Governor Mamintal Adiong Jr.
The group charged the governor and his relatives with “terrorism” for allegedly ordering the attack on a local electric cooperative here and burning the truck of a Lasureco contractor in Ditsaan-Ramain town.
But local residents believed the attacks could have been “instigated by a third party.”