The lack of government support for Madrasah schools in Marawi City has provided a rich ground for recruitment of Maute terrorist group members, Marawi City Mayor Majul Usman Gandamra said on Friday.
“Many of the recruits [of Maute]are from Madrasah schools which do not only educate about Islam, but also the Muslim way of life. Because of weak government presence in Madrasah schools, I would say there has been a gap, giving the Maute group the opportunity to finance these schools; inculcate principles and ideas deviating from the true essence of Islam,” Gandamra told journalists.
He disclosed that the local government units have been mapping out strategies to contain if not eradicate terrorist activities even before the Marawi City siege erupted, considering that Maute already stormed Butig town, in November 2016.
The Maute terrorist group’s attempt to besiege Butig was quelled by the military in December 2016, but pockets of Maute attacks again sprang in Butig by end of January this year until the Marawi City siege, also in Lanao del Sur, eventually caught government forces off guard on May 23.
“That is why the city government, and even the provincial government is looking at passing a resolution or ordinance regulating the Madrasah schools, not to suppress freedom of religion, but for proper guidance, so that the Marawi siege won’t happen again,” Gandamra said.
The Marawi conflict ended after 154 days of intense fighting between government forces and the heavily armed Maute, leaving over a hundred soldiers with at least 47 civilians and around 800 terrorists dead as well as 500,000 people displaced.
President Duterte declared Marawi liberated from the terrorists on October 17, day after Omar Maute and Isnilon Hapilon, considered the top leaders of the Islamic State-inspired Maute group, were killed by government forces based on a tip by a female hostage who escaped her captors.
Meanwhile, the Department of Education in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (DepEd-ARMM) will start repairing seven damaged schools in Marawi City and 54 others in various parts of Lanao del Sur.
Assistant Secretary Alfhadar Pajiji, of DepEd-ARMM, said the initial budget for the repair of over P34 million will come from the regular program of the department.
The clashes destroyed school structures and facilities in Marawi affecting more than 62,000 students in public and private schools, as well as in state universities and colleges.
DepEd-ARMM regional secretary John Amil Magno said several schools are now ready include Matampay Elementary School, Tampilong Elementary School, Datu Saber Elementary School, Basak Elementary School, Amai Pakpak Central Elementary School, Pandi Elementary School and Marawi City National High School.
Magno added that they drafted recovery programs and provided e-learning assistance, psych-social first aid and feeding program for schoolchildren affected by the crisis.
The DepEd central office earlier announced that an estimated P2 billion is needed to rebuild Marawi City’s schools that were totally damaged plus 47 others that need major repairs.
Cairon Dimatingcal, village chairman of Barangay Lumbac Madaya, said she is donating a 1.5-hectare land owned by her family in Barangay Malimono to build houses for the displaced Marawi residents.
Lumbac Madaya is one of the villages most affected by the five-month-long clashes between government troops and the Islamic State-inspired Maute group.
WITH JULMUNIR I. JANNARAL