The Mautes and Marawi City: A family’s quest for vengeance

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 13 2017 10:01 PM | Updated as of Jun 13 2017 10:49 PM

Soldiers reach for children being carried down from a truck after they were rescued from their homes in Marawi City, as government troops continue their assault on insurgents from the so-called Maute group, Wednesday. Romeo Ranoco, Reuters

MANILA- The desire to take revenge against their enemies is seen as one of the reasons for the Maute clan’s takeover of the southern city of Marawi.

Claiming to have ties with the Islamic State, the Maute group’s takeover of Marawi City is not its first. It has, for quite some time, wrought havoc in Lanao del Sur, particularly in the town of Butig.

But unlike its previous attempts, the clan’s attack in Marawi City is like no other. It has prompted the President to place the entire island of Mindanao under military rule, has forced thousands out of their homes, and have left hundreds dead.

UP Institute of Islamic Studies professor Darwin Absari said one of the stories on why and how the Mautes began taking over cities tells the tale of a “Rido” or a feud between families that commonly happen in Mindanao.

“They lost a bidding over one project and it started from there... Nag-Rido,” Absari said in an interview on ANC’s “Beyond Politics.”

Absari said the Mautes originally wanted to target a local politician from Butig, but failed after the military reclaimed the town.

But how could a family have enough firepower to commit atrocities of such magnitude? Credit goes to the Abu Sayyaf group and other supporters of the Islamic State who took advantage of the brewing family feud, Absari said.

“There are lots of vague pieces information on the ground…but I think it will naturally happen if there are similar groups with similar aspirations,” he said. “These ISIS or ASG took the opportunity in linking up to them.” 

Marawi City became vulnerable to the attack because of an existing problem in the city, according to Absari.

“Merong receptive group in that particular place na tumanggap sa kanila,” he said.

CLEANSING

Absari said that while others viewed the siege in Marawi City as nothing but an act of terrorism, there were others who viewed it as a means to cleanse the city of guns and drugs.

“Prior to the Marawi siege, people are engaged in clan wars. There are a lot of guns and drugs and some people look at it as cleansing,” he said.

“Marawi is like other places in our country where there [are] drugs and where there [are] clan wars. And I think clan wars [are] more devastating because a lot of people die, and it takes a long time to settle a clan war,” he added.

Asked how he thinks the Marawi siege would end, Absari suspects it may lead to another Rido from families who would want to take revenge at the Maute clan for their lost loved ones. 

“Ang Muslim, hindi maka-get over kahit lumipas na ang ilang taon, 'pag pinahiya mo, sinaktan mo at hindi nakaganti, mahirapan sila matulog sa gabi,” Absari said.

Authorities arrested the Maute matriarch and patriarch last week as the military continued to clear the city of remaining extremists. Reports of the death of two Maute brothers, Omar and Madie, were also being confirmed by the military.

Absari noted that clan wars were not even part of Islamic teachings, but are still practiced in the country.

WHAT’S NEXT

With clashes between government forces and the Mautes entering its fourth week, Absari said the military could no longer back down or else lose face.

“If the government will negotiate, they will lose face, especially the Armed Forces. In fact, they are now losing face because they cannot solve the problem immediately,” he said.

He does not, however, think that the government has failed in securing Marawi, saying that it was unexpected for a Muslim family to lead an attack in the Islamic city.

“I think hindi lang natin na-anticipate na they could do such thing like attacking the city of your fellow Muslim,” Absari said.

Absari highlighted the importance of addressing the problem of Moros at the national level, warning that even if the Maute clan would be neutralized, another family may soon commit the same atrocities.

“One problem has multiplied into many problems to show that we have not gone far as far as solving the Mindanao struggle is concerned,” he said.