Bogus Marawi rehabilitation
Grabbing Maranao lands for military-use
It has been almost two years since the US-Duterte regime evicted Maranaos from Marawi City. Until today, however, no family has been allowed to return to the city center as this is currently being occupied by both US and Filipino soldiers. As time goes by, their return is becoming increasingly impossible.
Using a presidential decree issued in 1953 as pretext, the AFP immediately started the construction of a 10-hectare military camp right at the heart of the city. Disguised as a headquarters of the AFP, the said facility will actually be used by the US for its special operations in the country.
The US has long used Marawi as a base for its operations in Mindanao. In 2010, the US Special Operations Command’s (SOC) use of Camp Ranao, 103rd Bde’s headquarters in Marawi, was exposed after the killing of Gregan Cardeno made the news. Cardeno was then working inside the camp as a translator for the Liaison Coordination Elements (LCE). LCEs are a small group of special forces units that “advise” Filipino soldiers and are incorporated in AFP tactical commands.
Since the beginning, Marawi and the towns surrounding Lanao Lake have always been of crucial interest to the US. When the US occupied Mindanao in the early 1900s, the US purposely invaded these Lanao towns and conquered their chieftains. What academics dub the Moro Rebellion (1899-1913) started in this area. The Moro Rebellion was the Moro’s armed resistance against American occupation and to defend their society and ancestral land. During the Battle of Bayan (now Bayang, Lanao del Sur), Maranaos valiantly fought against the US encroachers using indigenous weapons. The Maranaos were conquered by US troopers who used brutal tactics and modern weapons. Despite the downfall of Bayang, uprisings continued in Bacolod and Taraca where US forces sustained numerous casualties. The Americans eventually reached Marawi (formerly Dansalan) and linked it to Iligan.
The US first established a military camp in Bayang (Camp Vickers) in 1902. Captain John Pershing who was considered an “expert” in counterinsurgency after purportedly pacifying the Maranaos was based here. In reality, the so-called pacification or cooperation of the chieftains of Lanao with Pershing only came after the US’ brutal and bloody attacks against the Maranaos.
In 1903, the US established Camp Keithley in Marawi, in honor of Fernando Keithley, an American soldier who was killed in an ambush by Maranaos. Camp Keithley (also known as Camp Amai Pakpak which the AFP inherited) covers 6,000 hectares of land in Marawi and the adjacent towns of Marantao, Piagapo and Saguiaran.