A clarion call

The Marawi Compensation Board, or MCB, has a full plate before it. While it is addressing efficiently and systematically the tedious processing of claims, which appears to be fine, it is hounded by the scant budget provided by the government.

The budget proposal for the year 2024 for Marawi war victims is a crumb — only P1 billion. This is outrageous and insulting to many victims still reeling from the trauma of losing their loved ones and precious possessions.

We learned from an unofficial source that the number of claimants has risen to more than 6,000 and still counting. The number of claims has increased exponentially. This occupies the claimants’ minds primarily, so they launched a lobby to urge Congress to augment the funds. MCB needs help.

MCB needs the collective activism of every Moro. Some may be lackadaisical, saying, “What is in store for us? We are not victims.” Yes, but one could be a victim tomorrow. One cannot just be a spectator to the unfolding drama. Muslims have a moral obligation to get involved.

The Islamic concept of Ummah Islamiyah, or Muslim Brotherhood, which in substance mandates that the pain of the pinky is the pain of the entire body of World Muslims, obliges every Muslim to get involved.

There is a divine call to be concerned and to act in whatever way to attain justice for the Marawi “bakwits” (evacuees). Stand up and be counted. As a minority in society, our disunity will be our undoing. Show there is no barrier separating Muslims when the cry for justice for a brother is concerned.

Earlier, Moro activist lawyer Sultan Dimapuno Datu Ramos literally beat the traditional Maranaw agong, calling for involvement and action. We call on the local Integrated Bar of the Philippines, helmed by President Allan Lanz Panolong, who is concurrently executive vice president and incoming national president (2025) of the IBP (which has been rendering pro bono assistance to claimants), to pass a resolution addressed to the two Houses of Congress in support of the call to augment the budget for Marawi victims.

Other Moro society groups, like the Moro Consensus Group headed by Drieza Lininding, a champion of the Moro cause who has been very active in enacting the compensation law, should show the same grit in this campaign.

Maranaw fraternal groups like the Lanao Muslim Professional Fraternity (is it still active?), the Philippine Muslim Student Association, once headed by Macabangkit Lanto Jr., the Imam Council of the Philippines headed by Al-Alim Said Ahmad Bashier, and a host of many other cause-oriented Muslim organizations, should mobilize their members to action. This is a clarion call to them. Let’s storm Congress with our appeal for justice. We summon the same interest and enthusiasm these groups showed, which led to the enactment of the Compensation Law.

Our political leaders had shown sincere support in that campaign. Governor Mamintal “Bombit” Alonto Adiong Sr., City Mayor Sultan Majul Gandamra, Congressmen Zia Alonto Adiong and Yasser Alonto Balindong have not been wanting in lobbying and talking to high officials in government to increase the fund. Their influence is powerful. They have personal access to these officials who rely heavily on local support during elections.

I am writing this series of articles to shake up the public. To the Moro society groups, the Bangsa Maranaw does not forget and will never forget your crucial role in the past and present campaigns for bakwits’ justice. We want you to be angry, to raise your voices once again so loud that they will reverberate through the sanctum of Malacañang and the halls of Congress. Let us raise our clenched fists and shout at the same decibel as when government pilots bombed our homes and people.

Silence is a crime under these circumstances. Fight for our rights!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *