The people of Marawi demand justice

GRP strongman Duterte declared Marawi City “liberated from the terrorist influence” the day after the AFP claimed to have killed Isnilon Hapilon of the Abu Sayyaf and Omar Maute last October 17.

The Moro people, especially the Maranaos of Marawi, however, are not celebrating. They are, at best, only relieved that the AFP’s 147-day siege of Marawi City is over and that they can finally return to their homes. But can they?

After more than five months of aerial bombardment, Marawi has been flattened. People’s homes, private property and public infrastructure and utilities are completely destroyed. Their hard-earned properties have been plundered. They are being prevented to return home, not until the military has bulldozed everything before anyone can make an independent inquiry and accounting of the siege.

Worst of all, it is turning out that Marawi is no longer theirs. Marawi City itself is now the war booty of the AFP and the US. They are the biggest victors. And the Moro people, the people of Marawi, the biggest losers. They no longer have control of Marawi. It is the military and defense establishment and their US overlords which control Marawi.

Close to 500,000 people from Marawi and nearby towns are asking the question–will they be able to return to their homes and communities? Until now, they have received no categorical answer from the Task Force Bangon Marawi, the government committee managing so-called “rehabilitation” of Marawi.

Through the force of arms, military and defense officials in the Task Force have claimed the prerogative of dividing Marawi according to their design. They are invoking a 1953 presidential decree which declares 6,000 hectares of Marawi’s 8,775 hectares as a military reservation. This also covers parts of Marantao, Piagapo, Saguiran and other parts of Lake Lanao. The statement by military officials that they will not claim more land than they will need is a non-assurance.

Tens of thousands of Marawi residents are now in peril of not being able to return to their homes which are in areas being claimed as public land. The Duterte regime is insulting the people of Marawi by offering 50,000 families to live in an 11-hectare temporary housing project in Barangay Sagonsongan (or one family per 2.2 square meter of land) where 7,500 homes will be built, with each house measuring 26 square meters to be shared by three families. Only 1,100 houses will be built until the end of 2017. A big Korean capitalist will earn millions of pesos from this project.

In contrast, Duterte has assured his big bourgeois comprador compadres and cronies, especially those who contributed millions of pesos into his Marawi war chest, of their share of the spoils of Marawi. They are now lined up awaiting juicy contracts and choice cuts of land to control business and tourism in the area.

In the name of waging a “war against terrorism”, the AFP has ravaged and plundered Marawi City, the heartland of Moro culture and commerce. The people of Marawi demand accounting. They demand indemnification for all their losses. Above all, they demand justice.

They demand the truth which the Duterte regime and its military propaganda machine has buried deep in lies churned out daily over the past 150 days or so. They demand an independent Truth Commission to investigate the Siege of Marawi, its real causes, the extent of the role of the US military, Duterte’s claims of IS role (which even the AFP disputed at the outset), the real number of civilians killed (believed to be in the thousands) as well as questions concerning the necessity of conducting relentless aerial bombardment and the tactic of complete destruction.

By laying siege on Marawi to suppress a limited uprising of the Maute armed group, the Duterte regime has succeeded only in further stoking the flames of Moro armed resistance. At least one group of armed Moro fighters has announced its formation and declared its intent to wage war on the AFP in revenge for the sufferings of the Maranao people in its siege of Marawi. Other Moro armed groups are raring to carry out armed reprisals to avenge for their compatriots.

The Communist Party of the Philippines and the national democratic movement stand by the Moro people and the Maranaos of Marawi. The revolutionary forces support their demand for reparation and justice for the widespread death and destruction caused by the Duterte regime. They demand and end to martial law in Mindanao.

The Party supports the Moro people in their continuing struggle for self-determination. The Party enjoins the Moro people to continue waging revolutionary armed struggle as the principal form of struggle to attain their aspiration for a Bangsamoro land.

With the demand for self-determination being a key component of the program for a people’s democratic revolution, the Party calls on the Moro people to join the national democratic struggle to put an end to the oppressive and exploitative ruling semicolonial and semifeudal system and resist the reactionary and fascist state. The Moro youth can join the New People’s Army (NPA) as Red fighters to advance their Moro revolutionary cause.

The people of Marawi demand justice