Maranao group decries plan to demolish all structures
ILIGAN CITY — A group of Maranao evacuees from Marawi vented its ire on what it said was government insensitivity on the head of a multiagency task force that is supervising rebuilding efforts in the city battered by an attempt by Islamic State (IS) to turn it into a terror base and the government’s armed response to it.
Ranao Multi-Stakeholders Movement (RMSM), a group of Maranao displaced from Marawi and their supporters, called on President Duterte to replace Housing Secretary Eduardo del Rosario as head of Task Force Bangon Marawi.
Sultan Abdul Hamidula Atar, RMSM spokesperson, said Del Rosario had been “insensitive to the culture and feelings of the Maranao people.”
Atar said his group was offended by Del Rosario’s recommendation to flatten all structures, which would include the Grand Mosque, inside 24 Marawi villages where the fighting between IS and government forces was heaviest.
Another structure that suffered heavy damage during the war was the St. Mary’s Cathedral, the seat of the Catholic faith in predominantly Muslim Marawi.
According to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), whatever was left of the cathedral and the bishop’s residence would have to be demolished for new structures.
The CBCP, in its website, said a simpler structure would replace the cathedral.
Atar said the Maranao people were hurt when Del Rosario said they should already move their belongings out of the area to give way to the plan to flatten it.
Del Rosario also refused to consider the Maranao people’s proposals, Atar said.
He said Del Rosario and other officials do not realize the “importance of cultural sensitivity” because they were not Maranao.
Del Rosario, however, said the group’s criticism was “not the general sentiment.”
RMSM, he said, does not represent “even 1 percent of the total populace.”
Marawi Bishop Edwin dela Peña visited the 84-year-old cathedral on Saturday.
According to CBCP, the bishop and six other church officials had wanted to celebrate Mass in the cathedral but were advised by the military not to stay long because of security reasons.
The CBCP said Dela Peña agreed to suggestions to demolish the cathedral and the bishop’s residence “because they’re no longer structurally sound.”
Demolishing the church structures would start in June and could take up to 10 months, the CBCP said. —Reports from Divina Suson, Richel Umel and Jerome Aning
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