January 24, 2018, 9:29 am
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Maranaos as cops, soldiers

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has ordered concerned officials to seriously study the possibility of recruiting some 4,000 young Maranaos for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

The President gave the order to the Presidential Adviser on Mindanao Affairs, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and the Presidential Adviser on OFWs. 

The military recruitment -- it’s not a conscription because the Maranaos won’t be forced to join if they do not want to -- may be viewed as the government’s tact of providing gainful employment for the victims of the Marawi City siege by the Islamist Maute group and their Islamic State patrons.

These poor Maranaos not only lost their homes, schools, places of worship, roads and bridges, and public infrastructures. They also lost their businesses, jobs and other sources of livelihood. Thus, the government is expected to get busy in rebuilding Marawi, said to cost around P50 billion in the next couple of years. The national budget for this year already allocated P20 billion for housing and other needs of the city.

In his desire to provide jobs to the displaced Maranaos, Duterte is now offering them the chance to serve in the military and the police force.

This move, if it becomes a recruitment policy in the AFP and the PNP, is a rehash of an earlier initiative by former presidents Corazon Aquino and Fidel Ramos to integrate members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) to the Armed Forces. This was anchored on a peace agreement with the Misuari-led Muslim rebels, initiated during the time of former President Ferdinand Marcos, and honored and strengthened by the administrations after him. 

This special arrangement with the MNLF resulted in the rise in 1977 of another Muslim armed group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) of Hashim Salamat ,which also insisted on being accommodated by the government in whatever legal way possible.

The Armed Forces and the national police have not fully evaluated or assessed the repercussions of having a big number of Muslims in their ranks, where these elements had been deployed, how loyal or dedicated they had been to the Republic in times of actual combat with the government’s enemies, some of them their brothers in faith.

These concerns should at least be given serious study by the officials picked by the President to advise him later on how to go about recruiting 4,000 Maranaos to the AFP and the PNP.

While we are on the topic of Marawi, it is also worthwhile to ask what the whole nation, led by the government, is doing to redress the killings, devastation and sufferings experienced by a whole city in Mindanao.

It isn’t enough to rebuild Marawi and provide opportunities for its residents to normalize their lives. The IS, the Maute followers and their ilk should bear the brunt of their blind-faith misadventures. 
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