Former Maute terror group stronghold now has town hall

COTABATO CITY (John Unson, Nov. 16, 2023) — Officials will inaugurate on Sunday a new municipal hall in the hometown of the founders of the long decimated Maute terror group that had ranted noisily about poor governance in the area and lack of public service facets for marginalized residents.

The construction of the P25 million worth local government operations center in the hinterland Butig municipality in the first district of Lanao del Sur was bankrolled by the regional government of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao via its Ministry of the Interior and Local Government (MILG).

The building shall officially be opened to public on Sunday in a symbolic rite that Lanao del Sur Gov. Mamintal Adiong, Jr., Butig Mayor Dimnatang Pansar, BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim and Regional Local Government Minister Naguib Sinarimbo shall together officiate.

Adiong said on Thursday that he is thankful to the MILG-BARMM for having provided Butig with a municipal building from where local officials can manage all the barangays in the municipality, now peaceful and dotted with highland resorts frequented by local tourists from towns around and from the provincial capital, Marawi City.

“For us, this new municipal building is a beacon of hope and source of inspiration to continue with our peacekeeping activities in Butig to sustain the peace now that its residents enjoy,” Adiong said.

Acts of terror

Butig first hit the news in 2014 when the siblings Omarkhayam and Abdullah Maute hoisted the banner of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in one of its barangays, imposed a ruthless justice system on villagers and, from there, launched clandestine attacks on military and police installations and bombings of selected targets around.

Members of the Maute clan, along with Abu Sayyaf terrorists from the island provinces of Basilan and Sulu, together laid siege to Marawi City on May 23, 2017, bragging then that they were to establish a puritan Islamic community in the area.

Their religious adventurism triggered a bloody conflict that lasted for five months, resulted in the deaths of more than a thousand people, among them 119 soldiers and policemen, and caused the displacement of no fewer than 300,000 innocent villagers.

The conflict ended on October 16, 2023 after soldiers had killed the brothers Omarkhayam and Adullah and their key Abu Sayyaf supporter, Isnilon Hapilon, in a clash in one of the barangays in Marawi City that they occupied.

Recovery path

Adiong, who is chairperson of the Lanao del Sur Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC), said peace and sustainable development has since spread in Marawi City and in towns that were badly affected by the impunity of the Maute terror group.

He said he is thankful to the MILG-BARMM for having constructed barangays halls and police stations in the areas that were once bastions of local terrorists that have pledged allegiance to the government and had reintegrated into mainstream society through local reconciliation programs together being implemented by their PPOC, local executives and the Bangsamoro government. (JF UNSON, IN COTABATO CITY)

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