(Delivered on August 5, 2017 at “Sambatan” Forum at MSU-IIT, Iligan City)
Personally I would like to acknowledge and thank the organizers of this forum the Ranao Council, MSU-IIT, and PNP. In this is very important occasion, I am very grateful to be here in front of you speaking and representing the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The military’s role in the Marawi crisis is very crucial. We are here for you para ibangon muli natin ang Marawi City.
Since day one of the Marawi crisis, we have been there and we were able to immediately convene the Provincial Crisis Committee. The Lanao Rescue Team was formed and we had a dialogue in the first week.
As the G7 of the 1st Infantry (Tabak) Division of the Philippine Army, we have grand plans for Lanao del Sur and Marawi even before the crisis, especially on peace education and empowering the youth. We were developing a holistic program for the youth sector in coordination with various sectors.
With Martial Law in effect, we have been emphasizing the role of the LGUs and the military have been involved in series of engagements with government officials and traditional leaders.
Recognizing that today’s youth will be the next generation leaders, we are here today for a dialogue of shaping the Maranao community after the crisis. When it is time for us to go, who will take care of Marawi? Who will take care of its heritage and culture? We should show our young generation how it is to be brave and united.
Throughout history, Marawi is known for bravery and unity. With the ongoing crisis, we should be brave to defeat false ISIS ideologies perpetrated by the Maute terrorist group. These false ideologies are bent to destroy our rich cultural heritage. Your participation in this activity symbolizes your bravery in facing challenges. Is unity just about coming together for a dialogue? Unity is something bigger than us, internalized in our hearts and minds, enveloping our thoughts and understanding.
Just like you, your soldiers are also human. We are also evacuees from far places. We immediately went to Marawi when the crisis broke out and it also took time for us to get the things we need. Your soldiers also have families waiting at home. As much as you want to go back home, your soldiers also want to go back to their families.
With your help and support, your Armed Forces will be stronger in accomplishing its mission of serving and protecting you.
Let us help each other and let us all be brave and united until the end of this crisis.
Thank you vey much.