By Ali Macabalang
MARAWI CITY – Military and police officials have urged irate Maranaos not to turn to noncombatant members of the Maute family in revenge of the adversities they suffered from the siege in this city by militants led by two members of the clan and Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon.
“I am appealing to victims of the Marawi conflict to remain sober and refrain from putting the law into their hands. We have duly constituted authorities there to deal with them,” Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., head of the military’s Western Mindanao Command, was quoted as saying over the weekend.
Galvez said he received reports from local officials about the brewing tension between indignant Maranaws and the Maute family.
He hinted that those who lost relatives, properties and other assets in the strife should instead help pinpoint the siege perpetrators by way of “voluntary assistance in tracking them down.”
Chief Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac, police director for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, reportedly directed the 39 municipal police chiefs in Lanao del Sur to guard against possible violent actions by angry Maranaw folk against Maute clan members within their reach.
Sindac also confirmed reports about mounting animosity of evacuees to arrested couple Cayamora and Farhana Maute and their kin in Lanao del Sur’s Marantao and Butig towns.
“We don’t want any outbreak of violence between angry Maranaw people and this family. We have to let law take its proper course. Authorities are doing everything for justice to triumph,” Sindac was quoted as saying.
During the emotion-packed celebration of the June National Independence Day in this city, several personalities had expressed their rage against the siege perpetrators and vowed to pull the triggers on Hapilon and brothers Abdullah and Omar Maute not only for the bounties on their heads but because of their acts that bequeathed them hardship.
The President had earlier offered a P10-million reward for Hapilon and P5-million each for Omar and Abdullah. The US government has a standing US$5-million bounty on Hapilon’s head.
Hapilon, said to be an Islamic State-anointed “emir” for Southeast Asia, has already reportedly sneaked out of here, even as many aggrieved Maranaos deemed the purported escape as another reason to grind on the Maute brothers.
“They allowed Hapilon t come and lead devastations in our community. They deserve to die in our hands,” a retired police officer told the Manila Bulletin over the phone.
Meanwhile, Alimatar Guro Maute, a former barangay chairman of Puracan in Marogong, Lanao del Sur, thanked the 6th Infantry Battalion for certifying him and three other family members as not related by consanguinity or affinity to the radical family.
Some 20 Manila-based traders and students with Maute surname also appreciated the police for intervening in their complaints of bullying by individuals privy to their family name. They are natives of Mulondo, Lanao del Dur and not related to the radical family.