DAVAO CITY, July 31 — The Marawi crisis has become a major test of its people’s character.
Although most of the city’s residents have fled to safer ground, there are those who have chosen to stay behind and risk their lives to help those who have been caught in the crossfire.
Among them is Ali Asgar Solaiman, a member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and a native of Marawi.
Solaiman is among dozens of MILF members who now serve as volunteers of the Joint Coordination, Monitoring and Assistance Center (JCMAC).
The JCMAC was created through the “Peace Corridor” initiative which aims to a provide a safe and secure zone for civilians fleeing the conflict, as well as a reliable space where humanitarian assistance can pass through.
The Peace Corridor is under the oversight of the GPH-MILF peace implementing panels.
Since the Peace Corridor opened on June 4, Solaiman and his MILF comrades have braved sniper fire and helped in the successful retrieval of 282 civilians trapped in the conflict zone.
Solaiman shared that the Marawi crisis has become a “very emotional” issue for him after witnessing the horrors of death and destruction in his hometown.
“I could not hold back my tears when I saw the dead bodies of people I knew and the heavily damaged houses,” he said.
“But in the name of the Bangsamoro, and in the name of humanity, we didn’t mind risking our lives to save our brothers and sisters,” he added.
The armed conflict in Marawi, he stressed, should be “a lesson and the reason” why the GPH-MILF peace process must be pursued with renewed vigor.