New armed group rises in Marawi; pumalit sa Maute?

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While the fighting between government troops and the Maute group for Marawi City is still not over, a new armed group has emerged.

The group calling itself the Meranaw Victims Movement (MVM) is demanding the restoration of normalcy in Marawi and in Lanao del Sur.

“This movement is dedicated to help in fighting for the rights of the Bangsa Meranaw whose dignity was trampled upon because of this crisis,” it said.

MVM said some of its members have relatives among the civilians who died in the fighting, with their remains yet to be retrieved.

It said it does not conform to the use of Marawi as a sanctuary for the ISIS/Maute Group.

But it also said it finds “unacceptable” the actions of the government that “caused the displacement of tens of thousands and deaths of several civilians due to the aerial bombings and use of heavy armaments in Marawi City which are among those prohibited under International Humanitarian Law.”

Also, it said it is dismayed with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, saying “nothing was heard of them, let alone have they made a categorical position on the current Marawi crisis.”

The group called on the ISIS/Maute Group to “leave Marawi City at once and free their hostages, Muslims and Christians alike.”

It asked President Rodrigo Duterte and the government to allow the civilians to return to their homes in areas cleared by the military, and to stop the aerial bombings.

The group called for a stop to alleged abuses by some military and police personnel at checkpoints and accord respect to civilians, especially the women.

It sought compensation for the damaged houses and buildings, wasted goods and merchandise of civilians and provide for their livelihood as well.

“Importantly, the government should not make any hint that it would occupy the land of the Meranaws on the basis of military reservation, instead it should help legitimate owners to have their respective land titles,” it said.

“To our leaders, should we find out that you defraud or corrupt the assistance and support intended for the evacuees, we will unrelentingly pursue until we take them for the people in whatever means possible,” it said.