Town adjacent to Marawi celebrates despite threats

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AMID conflict and chaos in Marawi City, the adjacent town of Nunungan in Lanao del Norte, celebrates its 51st founding anniversary on Friday with several regional officials in attendance.

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Nunungan town which is separated by a thick forest and rough terrain from the Muslim city besieged by the Islamic State (IS)-inspired Maute group on May 23, has lined up activities including an agro-industrial fair, kolintang dance showdown and musical extravaganza from June 26 to June 30, the date of its founding anniversary.

Mayor Marcos Mamay, who won the elections last year, beating the incumbent who had been entrenched as the town’s chief executive for 30 years, told The Manila Times in a phone interview that residents are happy and grateful for the change his administration is bringing to the isolated town.

The most notable of this is the construction of roads connecting Nunungan to Sapad and Sultan Naga Dimaporo or Karomatan.

“As a local myself, I attended previous Araw ng Nunungan celebrations, but people tell me they have never experienced anything like this before. While the roads are still being constructed, travel time has already been reduced from five hours to two hours along the 15-kilometer stretch. When the roads are finished, it will only take 30 minutes,” he said.

Mamay, the only PDP-Laban candidate among 22 municipal mayors of the province who ran in the 2016 elections, invited President Rodrigo Duterte to the festivities as early as April but Malacañang begged off considering the current crisis in the region.

Among those who joined the earlier activities for the town’s founding anniversary were Department of Environment and Natural Resources regional director Edwin Andot, Provincial Environment officer Mamacaya Lucman, Region 10 Office of the Presidential Assistance on the Peace Process area management team, Marlon Lucman of the Department of Public Works and Highways district engineering office and Regional Convenor of Young Moro Professional Network Leah Tarhata.

Mamay will also be attending the Araw ng Lanao del Norte on Friday with provincial officials and Rep. Abdullah Dimaporo in Tubod town, where security situation for the entire province will be discussed as well.

Lanao del Norte’s urban center, Iligan City, is only 38 kilometers away from Marawi and security has been tightened further amid threats that it will be the next target of the terrorists.

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