LISTEN TO US. Traditional Maranao leaders are appealing to President Rodrigo Duterte to declare a ceasefire and allow them to intervene and talk to the families of the extremists involved in the attack in Marawi City. The leaders including sultanates and imams from Lanao del Sur province signed a petition addressed to Duterte on Thursday, June 15. (Zea Io Ming C. Capistrano/

ILIGAN CITY, Philippines — Traditional Maranao leaders have expressed lament over the destruction of Marawi City as fighting between extremists and government forces entered its 24th day on Thursday.

On Thursday, June 15, the leaders aired their concern over what they call as the “deprivation of dignity” of the Maranao people.

Marawi Sultan Hamidullah Atar said they never heard the President ask about the situation of the internally displaced persons. He said he is unsure whether the social media did not publish completely what Duterte said but added that he remembered well how the President asked about the soldiers.

“What we heard and watch from the television is yung pagkamusta ni Duterte sa mga sundalo who are our hero who performed their duties to protect the people in Marawi in the height of the crisis,” he told Davao Today in an interview.

“Apparently we didn’t hear: ‘Kamusta kayo IDP? Kamusta kayo mga kababayan ko?’ Masakit yun until now na hini-heal pa namin yung mga ganun na pamamaraan, mga ganun na sentimyento sana rin mangumusta… kamusta kayo? Tingnan bisitahin, anong sitwasyon (Apparently we didn’t hear: How are you IDPs? How are you my fellowmen? It pains us until now, we have that sentiment, we are hoping that he ask too about our situation, look at the evacuees, their situations),” he added.

Atar said the IDPs share the same sentiment “because we are 99 percent supporters of Duterte movement, landslide yan nung election.”

Message for Maranaos

During his recent visit to the wounded troopers in Camp Evangelista in Cagayan de Oro City on June 11, the President was asked by the media for a number of times what his message would be for the residents of Marawi City who lost their homes. The President did not answer the question straight ahead but instead went on explaining the enormity of the security concern in Marawi City and his reasons for declaring Martial Law in Mindanao.

“Ang problema nito ‘yung spillover. That is why we have to declare martial law in the entire island of Mindanao because they can run everywhere and anywhere, and they can always find sanctuary and solace,” he said.

Duterte placed the entire island of Mindanao under Martial Law on May 23.

Duterte also said he was not proud of declaring Martial Law in Mindanao. He said:”I am not proud of it. I am not happy with it. But I have to call the soldiers in because they were already occupying a definite territory and governance really has collapsed there in Marawi at saka they were already flying the ISIS flag.”

“So government is the neutral party here. So kami, hayaan mo na lang kami. It has nothing to do with religion. I refused to believe that it is religion that fueled this war. It never has been and it is not now,” Duterte added.

Duterte at the end of the interview had a brief message to the Maranaos where he assured them that the war will be over soon.

“Mga kapatid kong mga Maranao, lahat na pati the Moro world of Mindanao: I do not want to fight. I cannot. I simply cannot wage a war against my own people. I pray that there will be a short period of war activity and we expect it to be over soon. We are ready ang gobyerno, ang ating Republic,to extend assistance,” he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte with Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (Left) and General Eduardo Año (Right), June 11, at the Camp Brig. General Edilberto Evangelista in Cagayan de Oro City. (Zea Io Ming C. Capistrano/

Too long

But the traditional leaders feel the war is taking too long and that to end the destruction of civilian lives and properties the government should allow them to negotiate with the radical groups.

“We were expecting the crisis would end on June 12,” Atar said. June 12, the 119th day of Philippine Independence was the initial target date to liberate the city. However, days before the deadline, military officials declared they are not setting any deadline on when to end the crisis as they face difficulties on the ground.

Most of the evacuees interviewed by Davao Today also said they did not expect the incident would turn into a full-blown crisis.

High school teachers and cousins Sam and Minerva, who evacuated to Pantao Ragat town in Lanao del Sur said they thought they would only be leaving the city for a few days.

“Yung parang nangyari that day akala namin, a day lang, tapos babalik ulit kami sa bahay,” Sam, a teacher in private school who requested anonymity said Wednesday, June 14.

Sam added some of them thought the problem would go away overnight when the extremists attacked the streets of Marawi.

“Pag kinabukasan sa Wednesday, nag-impake lahat good for two days, three days. Hindi kasi inisip na aabot sa ganito (We thought we would only be gone for two or three days, not thinking it will be like this),” Minerva said.

EXPOSED. During evacuation, children expose themselves to unhealthy environment, from the place they take their meals and to the areas where they sleep. (Alexander Lopez/ photo)

Humanitarian situation

The International Committee of the Red Cross on Thursday said the ongoing fighting and the damage of infrastructures in the city “will likely prolong the displacement of Marawi residents.”

“Their needs are immense and growing by the day,” the ICRC said.

As of June 12, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao recorded 200,234 IDPs who are house-based or those who were taken in by their relatives and those living in evacuation centers.

The ICRC said displaced families are faced with limited food and water. Atar also said neighboring towns are gravely affected as lack of supplies are brought by the displacement of hundreds of thousands of evacuees.

Saimah Pagalad, 25, a Marawi resident and volunteer staff for the Sultan of Marawi said prices of basic commodities have risen up to five folds because of the crisis.

She said a sack of rice are sold from P2,500 to P5,000.

“Not only the evacuees from Marawi are affected, but even residents of nearby towns,” she said.

Atar added that some home-based IDPs are reluctant to go through the tedious process of enlisting to get relief goods.

“We don’t know the exact data, but some of them are not given relief because of the long list of verification which you need to undergo,” he said.

“Pag sinabihan sila ng barangay, pumunta sa purok, from purok punta sa ganito, napakaraming ililinya tapos napakasakit sa kanila na i-undergo yung ganun (They will be asked to go from the barangay to sub-village, it’s a tedious process for them to undergo),” he said. (

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