A Mindanao official on Saturday slammed critics who have been blaming Maranaos for allegedly allowing terrorists to thrive and wreak havoc in Marawi City.
"To say na pinabayaan namin, it's like saying kumuha kami ng pamukpok na ipupukpok sa aming ulo," Zia Alonto Adiong, spokesperson of the Marawi Crisis Management Committee, said in a press briefing.
Video recovered by the military had shown that the Maute group planned the siege on Marawi City for months in a bid to overrun the lakeside city and establish an Islamic State "wilayat" or province in Mindanao.
Adiong, an Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao assemblyman, said local officials and residents were busy preparing for Eid'l Fitr or the end of Ramadan, an important Muslim holiday, when the Maute group suddenly fired at civilians and torched buildings in Marawi City on May 23.
"How can you expect civilians who are just planning for the end of Ramadan to engage militarily a well-planned, well-coordinated attack of well-trained men that have support from international terrorist networks?" Adiong said.
"No one can blame us for not resisting," he added.
Some Marawi City natives who fled from their homes and relocated to other provinces to resume normal lives have reported experiencing discrimination and being labelled as terrorist coddlers.
Adiong earlier said they received reports that Maranao evacuees were being shut out from renting rooms in neighboring towns and provinces.
Adiong said it was unfair for Maranaos to be discriminated against and blamed for a war that cost them their homes and livelihoods.
"When the siege in Zamboang happened, nobody blamed the people of Zamboanga why people did not take up arms. Now that it happened in our backyard, why are people blaming us?" Adiong said.
"We are the victims here. Ang nabiktima ang mga Maranao, ang mga nagsuffer ang mga Maranao," he said.
As of July 7, 366 terrorists, 87 government troops, and 39 civilians
have been killed in the nearly two-month long battle in Marawi City.