“Please allow us to go home!”

This was the strong cry of the victims of the ongoing Marawi Crisis, according to my Maranao Muslim Ulama partners in the Bishops-Ulama Conference (BUC). They attended the Bangon Marawi Multisectoral Peace Conference which I as BUC chairman convened in Cagayan de Oro in collaboration with the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) on 12-14 July 2017.

The strong cry of the Maranao Moro civilians who are suffering at the evacuation centers was also echoed by the Moro professionals, educators and youth at the same conference.

They address this plea to return home, not only because there is no place like home, but because at home they believe they can resolve their differences with the Maute family who deceived them at the instigation of the Isnilon Hapilon, a Tausog and head of the Abu Sayyaf. To them the issue is one which has always caused the Rido among the Maranaos, and the solution is the Rido way. Hidden underneath is the question of money which allegedly has been the Abu Sayyaf’s reason for being.

If this statement is correct it is really a cultural, a tribal, issue under the guise of a false and militant religious fundamentalism. In all, culture and religion, or, Maranao culture and Islamic fundamentalism, not politics, are perspectives which the Government and its Armed Forces have to consider.

I do believe my Ulama friends know what they are talking about.

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