Article by Razel Suansing
When the word “Marawi” is uttered, a surge of thoughts and sentiments overwhelm the minds of many. Some may think of the conflict that exists between Islamic and Christian groups on the island of Mindanao. Some may think of the controversial declaration of martial law across the entire island. Some may even think of the thousands of soldiers that wager their lives on the battlefield everyday in an attempt to reestablish peace in the Philippines. Others might consider it to be yet another complex word in the Filipino language, and may feel distant to concept. However, the effects of the Marawi siege have not been distant to the people of the Philippines.
The conflict erupted on May 23, 2017, when Philippine troops launched an offense to capture Isnilon Hapilon, the leader of the ISIL-affiliated Abu Sayyaf group. They received intel that Hapilon was in Marawi to meet with members of the Maute group, also known as the Islamic State of Lanao. The conflict began due to a deadly firefight between Hapilon’s forces, who called for reinforcements from the Maute group, and the combined Philippine Army and police teams. After the firefight, the Maute group militants attacked Camp Ranao and occupied several buildings in the city including the Marawi City Hall, Mindanao State University, a hospital, and a city jail. Due to this series of events, the government felt it was necessary to declare martial law and suspend the privilege of habeas corpus in the area, to contain the conflict. The conflict continues to this date.
Janel P. (12) states that she has been pleased with the government’s efforts so far. “I commend the fast response taken [by the government] and fully support all the soldiers who have dedicated their lives to the conflict.”
As a Filipino citizen, Janel states that she is concerned about the situation of the individuals who have been consequential collateral damage due to the conflict. “I am greatly saddened and my heart goes out to our Filipino brothers and sisters in Marawi.”
The government troops state that the conflict is nearing its end. “According to the Army, only about 40 extremists are making their last stand in three mosques. In a few days they will launch the “final push” and Marawi will be liberated” (The Philippine Inquirer).
However, the great task of aiding the refugees and rebuilding the city remains. The ISM Service Learning Council is looking to work with UNICEF in order to contribute to these efforts. SLC will donate to these causes through the Disaster Relief Fund and will raise more funds through a Bake Sale on the 4th, 5th and 6th of October.
Students who are looking to get involved with this cause can contact Mr. Woods through his email firstname.lastname@example.org.