SOLDIERS RUN AMOK IN MARAW CITY
MARAWI CITY, July 17, 2011-
At around 7:30 PM yesterday, 16 July 2011, a team of AFP soldiers in full combat gear belonging to the 65th IB of the Philippine Army swept the busy street of the Commercial Center of the Mindanao State University (MSU) Main Campus at Marawi City brandishing their high-caliber firearms in utter disregard of the civilian populace, who are mostly students, teachers and on-campus residents.
People were alarmed and panicked at what they saw. “It is if there was an on-going military pursuit operation. The soldiers were menacingly pointing their guns at us. One of them carried a K3 machine gun. We all ran and took cover in fear,” said one of the civilian witnesses to the incident who refused to be identified for security reasons.
Upon investigation by the MSU Campus Police, it was learned that the soldiers were stark drunk, angry and deliberately provoking trouble because one of them was mauled and wounded in an earlier incident; so they want to take their revenge on any Moro civilian.
The military rampage was triggered by an earlier incident. At around 5:30 p.m, same day, a soldier from the same AFP unit by the name of Pvt. Emilson C. Canonigo boarded a passenger jeep (Via ISIS Terminal) and took the front seat. According to the testimony of the passenger jeep’s driver, Pvt. Canonigo was drunk and appeared to be looking for trouble. Further according to the driver, Canonigo, whom the driver did not know at first to be a soldier, suddenly pointed his .45 caliber pistol at him (driver), told him to follow his (soldier’s) direction, and then demanded that the driver surrender to him his day’s earnings.
When they reached Barangay Biaba Damag near ISIS Terminal, the driver suddenly stopped the vehicle and grabbed the pistol pointed at him by the drunken soldier. As they struggled for the gun, it went off accidentally with the bullet hitting Canonigo’s right knee. The driver then asked for help from civilian bystanders who responded by subduing the drunk soldier and beating him in the process to disarm him. They then brought him to the Marawi Philippine National Police (PNP) Station, and it was only then and there that they found out that the armed holdup suspect was a soldier assigned to a Philippine Army detachment in Marantao, Lanao del Sur. PNP personnel immediately brought him to Amai Pakapak Medical center for first aid where subsequently army elements belonging to the 103rd Brigade of the AFP, the mother unit of Pvt. Canonigo’s outfit, upon learning that one of their personnel was in custody, rushed to the hospital and forcefully took him back to their camp.
There was an altercation between the PNP and AFP over the custody of the soldier but later the Marawi PNP acceded to the wishes of the soldiers.
It was later alleged by the soldiers that their comrade was a victim of kidnapping and robbery and pointed an accusing finger at the driver and the bystanders who helped him. However, this attempt to twist the story was dispelled by the fact that the driver and the civilian bystanders immediately turned themselves over to the PNP station and executed their affidavits and complaints against the said soldier. They also turned over the pistol taken from Canonigo. Besides, kidnappers would normally not bring their victim to the PNP station. In this case, the first thing that the driver and the civilian bystanders did when they subdued Pvt. Canonigo was to bring him to the nearest PNP station.
In a related incident, following the rampage of Canonigo’s army buddies at the MSU Campus, PO1 Jabbar Oaferina Lao filed a report at PNP Station Marawi stating that that day at around 8:45 PM at Brgy. Rapasun, MSU, Marawi City personnel of the Philippine Army discharged their firearms in front of his residence. He also said that the same Philippine Army soldiers kicked and hit his car and were under the influence of alcohol. He further averred that they were looking for trouble to avenge the earlier mauling of their comrade, Canonigo.
SAKSI Islamic Radio Forum, a civil society organization, condemned these series of related incidents and called on the authorities to investigate the matter and punish those responsible soldiers.
Meanwhile, MOGOP (Muslim Organization of Government Officials and Professionals), an International Monitoring Team (IMT) – Civilian Protection Component (CPC) member, is now documenting said incidents and will formally forward their report to the IMT-HEAD of MISSION OFFICE in Cotabato City.
Filed by Drieza Lininding, Marawi City