The day Marawi died

We would not even have wanted to dignify his usually sarcastic statements but this is a time of suffering and call for oneness as a nation. Instead, we would have wanted he visit evacuation centers and see the mothers and children sleeping on floors and elderly survivors who continued fasting despite the odds. (READ: Duterte cancels Marawi visit due to 'foul weather')

We are a society that has survived 400 years and battled colonizers from America and Japan and asserted our unique identity in the 1935 Dansalan Declaration.

Despite being vanguard of the peace here, Marawi saw a horrific martial law take away 150,000 lives in the 1970s in Mindanao – a nightmare of destruction.

Imagine if in Manila if we conducted air strikes.

Unanswered questions

How did the conflict really start on May 23? What is the number of soldiers serving and how many are the enemies? Does ground command follow high command on peace? (READ: PH honors 'heroes of Marawi' with noontime salute)

Was there forced evacuation? What is the policy for civilian protection? How to avoid collateral damage on human lives?

How is the Maute group targeted? What equipment? How did the US Special Forces use forward observers and missile guided rockets during air strikes? (READ: Soldiers killed in military air strike in Marawi)

Just like the Abu Sayyaf that has infested the islands, it is not our choice that radicals have grown here in Marawi City. (READ: Duterte's challenges: Terror, crime and the Abu Sayyaf)

We urge the President to be more circumspect and compassionate about the suffering of fellow Filipinos who are doubly sacrificing as evacuees and fasting faithfuls.

As Commander-in-Chief, he must invest in stronger law enforcement measures, educate people on the rule of law and support the judiciary and ulama in their campaign for justice and Shariah.

We are not in charge of checkpoints. We are not authorities who can, with the use of technology, monitor suspicious actions and the entry of high-powered arms.

We urge he invest in civilian military relations instead of treating this as a movie of who wins and who loses. –


Samira Gutoc lives in Bangon, just a village away from the fighting of May 23. She is a focal person for Ranao Rescue Team that works on facilitating rescue, relief, legal, and medical assistance for Marawi residents.