‘Stop the blame game’

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THE Marawi City siege has apparently resulted in a blame game among a Muslim front against the Islamic State (IS) supporters and the people criticizing their local officials for denying the presence of armed group in their localities.

This, after a leader of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) urged the Maranao people to blame the bandits supporting IS who stormed the city, while residents in four coastal towns of Sarangani province blamed their local officials for denying reports on the presence of fully armed men who disembarked along the shoreline last week.

Abdullah “Bravo” Macapaar, commander of the MILF’s Northeastern-Western Fronts, said their revolutionary group did not and will not participate in the Marawi battle and told the Maranaos to blame the Maute bandits instead.

Marawi has turned into a battle-ravaged city described by many as becoming like Aleppo in Syria and Mosul in Iraq, when the IS supporters initiated their plan of taking over the lone-Islamic city in the country for their purported official establishment of a wilayah or province.


“We cannot blame anyone for this. Our children, who are fighting in Marawi, believed that this is their way of jihad [holy war or struggle]. So they withdrew and fought inside Marawi,” Macapaar said in the Maranao dialect.

Macapaar described the bandits as ulama or clerics, who are supposed to know more about Islam, but their organization opposes the ideology of the IS after consultation with the majority of clerics in the region.

“Majority of the ulama have said that we are on the right path and the ISIS are on the wrong side,” he added.
Macapaar’s public statement was uploaded on social media amid reports from intelligence authorities and information circulated in social media that their forces will reinforce the Maute group.

He also denied he was ordered to attack Iligan and other places near Lanao del Sur in support to the bandits.
“What happened just resulted in destruction like what happened to other countries where there are ISIS, most notably these occurred in Muslims areas,” he said.

Macapaar appealed to the government to stop bombing Marawi and Lanao del Sur because it is not the problem of the people but the ISIS, referring to the IS in the country led by Isnilon Hapilon, Abdullah and Omar Maute, and Owaidah alias Humam.

Meanwhile, the coastal residents in Sarangani are blaming their local officials for denying reports on the presence of fully armed group suspected to be Maute bandits who were seen disembarking on the shorelines of Glan, Maitum, Kiamba and Maasim towns last week.

The coastal townfolk expressed fear that what happened in the Marawi siege will also occur in their areas considering that there are no checkpoints along the coastal areas where the bandits could possible gain entry.

“We were being harassed by these armed group asking for food and money,” one of the residents who introduced himself as Bernardo, told The Manila Times.

A mother of four children in Glan hopes that the local officials, the police and military can protect them or ensure that no Marawi-like incident will happened in their province even as they refuse to believe what the town folk saw.

The sentiment is shared by residents in the four coastal towns saying that instead of blaming the people for reporting the sighting of the armed group they should make sure that they will be protected from any intrusion or threat.

Sarangani Gov. Steve Solon last week denied the presence of the alleged armed group who brought some wounded men to a government hospital in Glan for treatment days after the May 23 seige. The group was believed to have retreated from the Marawi fighting.

A military intelligence officer admitted they have interrogated some Indonesians who arrived in Sarangani last week saying most of them are undocumented but some are businessmen from Marawi who denied they are members of the Maute Group.

with JERRY ADLAW

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