Muslims in Baguio welcome ‘liberation’ of Marawi

BAGUIO CITY — Muslim leaders residing in this city welcome the latest developments in Marawi City, after President Rodrigo Duterte declared Marawi “liberated from terrorist influence” on Tuesday.

Imam Bedi Jim Abdullah, who traces his roots in Marawi, on Wednesday said, “Praise the Almighty for the development! With the recent event, it is a welcome news.”

He said he is happy to hear that the government was able to neutralize Omar Maute and Isnilon Hapilon, who led the terrorist group that took-over the city for almost five months.

Abdullah expressed confidence that with the demise of the two leaders, the entire terrorist group would fall.

“How the leader of a group thinks affects his whole organization. If his goal is to sow terror, his group will follow but if he thinks/ acts for the welfare of his people, then the good things will come out of his leadership,” he said.

He also said they had high hopes that the government under the leadership of President Duterte would be able to successfully rehabilitate Marawi and bring normalization to the lives of the Muslims in the city.

Abdullah assured that the Muslims, including those outside Mindanao, are ready to help rehabilitate and rebuild Marawi.

“While it is the obligation of the government to rebuild Marawi, we can contribute. The Muslim leaders can contribute and can give wisdom,” he said.

Abdullah also said the war in Marawi has awakened Muslims, not just in Mindanao but all over the country, raising questions among themselves, which gave an opportunity for the government to see the pressing issues affecting their communities.

Muslim leaders, he pointed out, can help promote the real essence of Islamism and correct the fake sensitivity and defiant teachings inculcated in some of them, which led some to go astray.

Calling on his fellow Muslims, Abdullah said, “let us maintain the smooth and the correct teaching of Islam, practice it, and we will all be well.”

Another Muslim leader in the city, Imam Samsodin Monib, said the demise of Hapilon and Maute is a long awaited respite from the many weeks and months of sufferings of the Muslims in Marawi and elsewhere.

“Napakasaya po, para kaming nabunutan ng tinik na pinakamalaki sa lalamunan (We are joyous, it’s like a huge fishbone was taken out of our throats),” he said.

Monib said that in the past months, they had been doing their share in easing the sufferings of their fellow Muslims, collecting and sending cash and goods to their brothers who were housed in evacuation centers. This was aside from assisting students who sought refuge here in Baguio City, to be able to continue their education.

Monib relayed that there were about 45 students from Marawi who transferred to the different elementary and high schools in the city after the war broke out in Marawi.

He said they had always believed that when good and evil clash, the good would always prevail.