Cebu City – A special narrowcast episode of Radyo Tacloban last August 23, 2017 tackled on the situation of the Muslims and Indigenous People in Mindanao who have been affected by the ongoing war in Marawi City and the subsequent declaration of Martial law in the entire Mindanao.
One of the guests, Settie Rahma Harim from Marawi City said, she and her family had to flee their home when military airstrikes began. She stayed in an evacuation center despite its dismal conditions and was forced to send her children to some relatives.
Because of the war, Rahma Harim lost her job. She relied on donations from kind-hearted individuals and from relatives to survive every single day.
“I only brought with me few clothes as I thought the war would end soon. I was wrong” Rahma Harim said.
The war in Marawi City began on May 23, 2017 after a military-initiated surgical operation against Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, who according to their intelligence report, was in the city on that day. Since then, the clash between the military and ISIS-linked Maute group has been ongoing, with the Philippine Armed Forces launching airstrikes to clear the city of the terrorists. Late night on May 23, 2017, President Duterte placed the entire Mindanao under Martial Law.
Rahma Harim is one of the delegates to the “Lakbayan 2017 (People’s Journey)”, a nationwide campaign of the national minorities to expose their situation and to express their sentiments and demands to the national government amid the ongoing war in Marawi City and Martial law in Mindanao that terribly affected their lives. Together with her were 500 Muslims and Indigenous People from five different regions in Mindanao who traveled to Cebu City for a stop-over before heading to Manila.
Meanwhile, guests Sarry Campos, Esel Libora and Julito Ofacan from the Indigenous People talked about their resistance movement against big mining operations within their ancestral lands. They noted that they already have quite a number of fellows and sympathizers who have been killed during the course of their struggle. They also related how they were affected by Martial Law.
Campos, a student of Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV), a school for indigent indigenous youth in the Caraga region, shared that their school and teachers were accused of being rebels and that there have been threats to bomb their school. She recalled that last Septermber 1, 2015, their executive director was brutally killed inside their school while their community leader was shot dead by paramilitary elements in front of her and some community members.
At the end of the narrowcast, the guests expressed their call to the national government to end the aerial bombings and to lift Martial Law. They also called for respect to their right to self-determination.
The narrowcast is a product of Radyo Tacloban, a community radio of International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) in cooperation with Kodao Productions and Central Visayas Farmers Development, Inc. (FARDEC).