CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY , Philippines – Responding to reports that a handful of Maranao women were allegedly abducted Cagayan de Oro and Iligan recently, a group of young Muslim men have taken the initiative to ensure that no Maranao woman life will be put in danger.
For Aslani Balt Jr., a law student and founder of the “Linding Ko Mga Bae” (LKMB), the Muslim community must take any chances when it comes to safety of their members.
Balt, together with other Maranao men, organized the LKMB. Its first project is the “Libreng Sakay Program,” where they rented public utility vehicles to ferry Muslim women from their schools to their destinations.
With Balt, the other founders of LKMB are his brother Andy, Mishari Lucman, and Mikko Adiong.
“These reports of attempted kidnappings, we won’t allow that,” he said, adding that they have launched this program to prevent such incidents.
The issue surfaced following reports of these alleged abduction being circulated on social media recently.
“We want the safety of our women,” Balt said, stressing that Maranao females have become the target of these reported abductions.
The program was launched on Monday night with a van and a jeepney rented by the group stationed outside Xavier University and Pilgrim Christian College to wait for Maranao women students.
“Sittie” (not her real name), 24, a 4th year law student at Xavier University and a government employee, said she was very thankful of the program.
“They (LKMB) has considered the situation at present were reports of rampant kidnappings have circulated. Somehow our worries are minimized and we feel protected,” she said.
Sittie said it’s normal for a Maranao woman like her to feel afraid.
The reported series of kidnappings of Moro women, she said, has become a regular topic of discussion in school and at her workplace.
“Since these reports began circulating on social media, my family and friends have always reminded me to be careful and to go home early. But I can’t help it since my law classes usually end at 9:30 in the evening,” she added.
She said she heard about the Libreng Sakay Program through Balt, who’s a personal friend, and from LKMB’s Facebook page.
For his part, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board-10 (LTFRB-10) regional director Aminoden Guro said he has granted LKMB a special permit so they can operate without violating any transport laws.
“The group (LKMB) chartered those PUVs to ferry students who come home late at night,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Cagayan de Oro City Police Office (Cocpo) in a statement has denied that law enforcers have arrested and detained a group of persons alleged to be the ones responsible for the reported abduction of Maranao women in the city.
Cocpo said they are still investigating the alleged series of attempted abduction.
Even though the investigation is ongoing and the city police have yet to arrest anyone, “[Cocpo] wants the citizens to know that the city is generally peaceful but everyone should implement security measures at all times since there are still fear on bad people roaming around waiting for their soft target.”
Cocpo said they have already coordinated with the regional office of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos here to put on record and interview if there are individuals who may have been victimized who report it to the agency.
“We ask the public to stay vigilant at all times and immediately report any suspicious activities and untoward incidents to the nearest police station,” city police director Senior Supt. Nelson Aganon said.(davaotoday.com)