Displaced Maranaws in Lanao del Sur reluctant to return home
John Unson (Philstar.com) - June 1, 2016 - 2:47pm
MARAWI CITY — After a seven-day air, artillery and ground offensives Army combatants have driven away the Moro jihadist group that established a shadow government in the affected barangays in Butig, Lanao del Sur. But dislocated civilians are reluctant to return to their villages, apprehensive of their safety.
Health officials are scrambling to address the needs of thousands of Maranaws dislocated by the hostilities in Butig between government forces and Moro jihadists.
Medics, led by physician Allen Minalang of the Lanao del Sur Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO), on Tuesday toured the conflict-stricken Barangays Coloyan, Samer, Bayabao, Raya Timbab, Sandab, and Ragayan to assess the condition of the evacuees.
Soldiers and Maranaw jihadists, not covered by the interim ceasefire pact between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, figured in a series of firefights last week in the six adjoining barangays located west of Butig, an impoverished town in the first district of Lanao del Sur.
Minalang’s team initially treated sick evacuees on Tuesday and will embark on more extensive medical missions within the week.
Minalang said he is thankful to the commander of the Army’s 103rd Brigade, Col. Roseller Murillo, for allowing them to inspect the conflict-stricken barangays.
Led by Abdullah Maute, the extremists, now on the run, had tried to establish a puritan Islamic community in the six barangays.
Minalang said around 9,000 villagers in six barangays in Butig were affected by the hostilities.
The Humanitarian Emergency Assistance and Response Team (HEART) of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao on Tuesday dispatched a team to help the provincial government of Lanao del Sur extend relief and rehabilitation services to evacuees.
Maute and his followers have been boasting of their “allegiance” to the Independent State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
The military had earlier forced them out of their first ever enclave in the border of Barangays Poctan and Ragayan.
The military launched its second tactical operation against them when they again displayed black ISIS flags and roamed in the hinterlands of Butig to mulct money from villagers and enforce a ruthless Taliban-style Sharia justice system.

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