DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Two Moro leaders on Wednesday, November 22, criticized the President’s plan of putting up a military camp in Marawi City.

Drieza Lininding, convener of the Moro Consensus Group said: “Building a camp at the heart of the city is not a guarantee that the city will become safe.”

Lininding’s statement came following the latest pronouncement of the President that he is keen on putting up a military camp to ensure that an incident similar to the Marawi siege six months ago will not happen again.

On Tuesday, November 21, President Duterte said the plan to build a camp will start even before the rebuilding of a large portion of the war-torn city is completed.

This is to ensure “that all of these things will never happen again.”

But according to Lininding, the President needs to understand that the city is situated within the envisioned Bangsamoro entity, thus such security plan needs to be “left to the Moros rather than soldiers.”

“We, Moros, can police our own ranks if the national government will allow us and empower us,” he added.

The idea of mounting a camp, he added, would also endanger the residents – as they will eventually become potential targets among those who want to attack the government.

“The best way to avoid similar attacks is for the government to address the centuries-old conflict via political settlement be it the Bangsamoro Basic Law or the federal set-up,” he said.

Duterte told: Focus on rebuilding shelter, justice

Meanwhile, Samira Gutoc-Tomawis, head of the Ranao Rescue Team, suggested that instead of talking about setting up military camps in Marawi, the President should speak about “shelter, investigations on looting and about transitional justice concern.”

She said the government should make sure that they have gained the trust of the residents who lost their homes during the five-month conflict with the Maute group.

“Investigate actions that are unlawful done by certain personnel, that I think should be the focus of the conversation and the pronouncements of the presidents. We already have a lot of military camps,” she said.

Duterte, meanwhile, acknowledged that there is a huge challenge to fighting terrorism.

“I’m trying my very best to come up with an agreement with the MI (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) and MN (Moro National Liberation Front) because they are the mainstream rebel fronts that would want or would settle for a government that is acceptable to them,” he said.

He said “there is no way” to find peace in Mindanao if the government cannot give back to the Moro people a part of their heritage. (davaotoday.com)

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