Stop ecozone, military camp plan in Marawi, group asks Duterte
A group of “left out” Maranaos on Friday urged President Duterte to stop the plan of establishing an ecozone and a 10-hectare military camp in the war-torn city of Marawi.
In an appeal, the Ranaw Multi-Sectoral Movement asked Duterte to intervene in the planned rebuilding of Marawi City and let the Maranao people lead the building of their city to preserve their cultural identity.
“We appeal then to you, Mr. President, to grant us, the people of the lake, the rightful heirs to this land, our right to rebuild this city with your guidance, support and protection,” the group said in a statement.
“We appeal to you to let Marawi be rebuilt the way our ancestors did: one house at a time, one masjid (mosque) at a time. One village at a time. We welcome those who are willing to help us in this endeavor, for the challenges are daunting and the costs are high. We appeal though that please help us rebuild according to our will in pursuit of the will of Allah (swt). Stand with us, help us, please, be one of us,” it added.
The Maranao, or the “people of the lake,” have resisted many invasions throughout history, but the proposed blueprint of Marawi City “is an invasion of a different kind,” as it “threatens to rob” their soul, the group said.
The blueprint was presented to the public on March 21-22 during the Multi-Sectoral Consultation on Marawi Rehabilitation held at the Social Hall, Capitol Complex in the city.
It said the plan was made without people’s participation.
“Plans that neither bear the stamp of our will nor reflect our culture. Plans whose mechanics and implementation are not clear to us. But one thing is clear: the people of Marawi are largely left out,” the multi-sectoral movement said.
“Those who came to present the plan dismissed our comments, recommendations, and protestations as though we knew nothing and have no business getting involved in rebuilding our very own city,” it added.
The group reminded Duterte, as former mayor of Davao City, that buildings and structures, however grand, do not represent a city and its people. The blueprint of Marawi, the group said, is in the hearts and minds of the Maranaos, and “not in the drawing boards of urban architects and master planners.”
“A city symbolizes its people. Built upon the aspirations and dreams of its people. Nurtured by and reflective of the identity of its people. We are not building a city from debris. We are rebuilding a city from history and from memory,” it said.
The group urged Duterte, who often claimed in his speeches that he is of Maranao blood, to consider the pleas of the Maranao people.
“Mr. President, you belong to our people. You know we will not keep quiet and simply accept this. We cannot accept that those who know so little of us would map out how to rebuild our city. Our home since time immemorial,” it said.
The government on Friday, for the first time, allowed residents to go back to their homes months after the city’s liberation in October.
Marawi City was reduced to shambles after the government’s five-month battle with Isis-inspired fighters.
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