A RESIDENT of Marawi City and former member of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) has decried alleged human rights violations committed against Maranaos during the 60-day martial rule.
Testifying before a joint session of Congress deliberating on President Rodrigo Duterte’s request to extend martial law for another five months on Saturday, Samira Gutoc said rescued civilians were blindfolded, a special child was interrogated, evacuees were made to strip naked in shelters for inspection, among others.
“In evacuation centers, pinaghuhubad po [ang mga Muslim]for inspection. Bawal na bawal ho iyan sa Islam. Kaya nga ho kami nakaganito [na may suot na hijab]. Bawal ho makita ang katawan namin. Bawal makita ang suso namin, ang panty namin. Umalis kami sa bahay namin na walang panty,” said Gutoc in a tearful testimony when asked about her experience amid allegations of human rights abuses committed during the 60-day implementation of martial law.
(In evacuation centers, we were made to strip for inspection. That is against Islam. This is why we are dressed this way to hide our bodies. It is prohibited to expose our breasts, our underwear. We left our homes without our underwears.)
“Mr. [Senate] President [Aquilino Pimentel], Madam Senator [Grace Poe], please, I am from Marawi City. Please ask us what do we feel, how do we stand up…rise from…these 60 days [of martial law],” said Gutoc, who resigned from her BTC post after Duterte kidded that he would have the back of soldiers in Marawi City even if they would commit rape in the line of duty.
(The BTC was created by virtue of Executive Order 08 to draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law.)
It was Senator Poe who called in Gutoc to testify during the special joint session after government authorities claimed that there were no human rights violations committed.
Gutoc also narrated the experiences of a special child whom she identified as Saduk and of 26 men who were rescued in the hands of the military.
“Saduk, from Marawi, is a special child, and authorities poured hot water on his hand. He was also psychologically interrogated. There were also 26 men, who were rescued by the men in uniform. When they were on the bridge [crossing to safety], they were asked to take off their t-shirt, blindfold themselves, and authorities told them, maghukay na kayo ng inyong libingan,” said Gutoc, also a member of Marawi City-based Ranao Rescue Team.
Gutoc also lamented how dead Muslims were not buried over the last 60 days which, she said, was a grave violation of Islamic laws.
“Islam puts much weight on the prohibition of not burying the dead for that long. We understand that it is a matter of national security, but there’s even a baby who died in a charity ward after being injected with so many supposed medicines, and the baby’s mother didn’t event know what was being administered to her child,” said Gutoc.
Congress is expected to decide this Saturday whether to approve or disapprove the President’s request as Proclamation 216, which mandates martial law, will lapse at 10 p.m.
Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23 after the Maute terrorist group staged a series of attacks in Marawi in a bid to establish a caliphate with Islamist leader Isnilon Hapilon as its emir.
The ongoing conflict in Marawi has destroyed the city, displaced its residents and killed hundreds of soldiers, terrorists and civilians combined.
Duterte said, however, that the crisis was not over and would need another five months to quell the rebellion coming not only from the Maute group but also from the Abu Sayyaf, Ansarul Khilafah Philippines and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).