Ex-BTC member disagrees with President Duterte
MANILA - A former member of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) said the Maranaos of Marawi City consider the Maute group and Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon as "strangers," contrary to allegations that they are supporters of the rebels.
Speaking on ANC, peace advocate Samira Gutoc said Muslims do not have a connection with the Maute group and Hapilon.
"On Facebook, by a netizen... It's horrible that you'd link us to all Mautes. We're not. Muslims are not Mautes. We're one million Maranaos all over the country. We're contributing to Baguio, Tawi-Tawi, Manila's economy. And we're not Maute supporters," she said.
She also clarified that residents of Marawi City do not recognize Hapilon nor the campaign of the Maute group.
"He's (Hapilon) not received at all. We don't know about him. We don't even know about this, Maute's campaign, they're not in mainstream, they're not in platforms. They're definitely strangers. So, for the public, for the netizens to say, you guys tolerated it, that's strange. We don't have a connection with these people," she said.
"Hapilon (a Tausug) is definitely a stranger. He doesn't have ascendancy. Wala kaming alam sa Tausug, we don't speak Tausug. It's a cultural barrier. So, Hapilon is definitely a stranger to the Maranao people," Gutoc also said, adding that Hapilon is only protected by the Maute group and not by residents of Marawi City.
According to Gutoc, it will be difficult for the government to get the sympathy of the residents of Marawi City if they continue with the air strikes.
"You're not going to get sympathy to fight terror when you're raining bombs on their houses... But you're not going to get their hearts and get sympathy against terror when you bomb a house, much more a mosque," she said.
Gutoc resigned as a member of the BTC after President Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao last May 23.
She confirmed that she resigned following President Rodrigo Duterte's joke he would own up to soldiers' wrongdoings, even if they rape up to three women.
"This is martial law. The houses were burning. People fled, 12 hours walking from Marawi to Iligan City. You don't joke. You don't joke at that moment in time. It's horrible," Gutoc said.
"Don't talk about rape at this moment in time. Just the word rape, don't talk about it right now. Martial law stigma was with us, 1970s. The 2000 all-out war, 2003 all-out war where a pork was eaten in the mosque," she added, referring to the armed conflict between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) during the Estrada and Arroyo administration.
Gutoc also found it impolite that Duterte lumped Maranaos together as if they all support the terrorists.
"I mean, he kept on saying the cultural group. Why don't you just say, galit ako sa tao who condoned all these terrorism," she said.
The President, in a speech earlier this month, took a swipe at the Maranaos who supposedly supported and helped terrorists find refuge in Marawi City.
"So, galit talaga ako sa Marawi na yan kung bakit 'yung mga Maranao, pinayagan mga tao na pumasok doon at manggulo... Galit ako sa mga Maranao na nagdala doon ng ibang klaseng tao, 'yung iba hindi pa Pilipino," Duterte has said in a speech delivered before government troops in Sultan Kudarat.
The military says nearly 350 people have been killed in the fighting, including 257 militants, 62 soldiers and 26 civilians. Hundreds of people are still unaccounted for, believed to be hiding in the basements of a city that has been pummeled by government air strikes. Residents have said they have seen 100 bodies in the debris of ruined homes in the battle zone.