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TURNING POINT: Terrorism: The Message

NAAWAN, Misamis Oriental (MindaNews / 5 December) – The Mindanao State University in Marawi City is a 1000-hectare campus that sits atop a hill 2,605 feet above sea level.  Its location offers a beautiful panorama of Lake Lanao, downtown Marawi and the Sleeping Lady, and Mt. Magaturing across the lake. The elevation gives the campus a wondrously soothing cool temperature year-round. In the 60s – 70s before the massive illegal logging of Lanao del Sur’s forestland, fog used to envelop the clean and serene campus early morning and late afternoon. It was then a haven for a life of study, meditation, and creativity. Nowadays, the creeping fog is a sight to wish for. And sadly, the campus is now suffocating from noise pollution and trash.

Because of the massive expanse of its campus, MSU Marawi is porous, where anybody can easily enter and do his thing inside. It, thus, has become home to bad elements with their sinister schemes and deeds. At one time or another, university constituents, more often non-local faculty and students, had fallen victims to thieves, kidnappers, drug traders, arsonists, murderers, and rapists. (Allegedly) no perpetrators of the crimes have been brought to justice so far. The statistics of unsolved crimes keeps on mounting.

The University administration has not also found a way to stop hordes of illegal settlers that include local businessmen, politicians, and others from within who had the guts to construct commercial establishments and luxury residences without any authority or documentations.

The lawlessness in MSU Marawi campus makes it highly vulnerable to man-made catastrophe.

The blast on Advent Sunday morning, 3 December 2023, at the MSU gym that snuffed the lives of four young worshippers and injured at least 42 others, was actually a mayhem waiting to happen.

Come to think of it. The victory of the government security forces over the Maute-ISIS siege of Marawi City in 2017 did not eliminate the terrorists. In fact, since then, there has been skirmishes between government forces and some terrorist groups in some Lanao Sur municipalities, of which the spread to the MSU campus no one had considered a remote possibility.

It is common knowledge that civilian communities, and not the military, is the primary target of terrorist campaign. An assault at civilians strikes fear and chaos among the population and may cause confusion and temporary paralysis of the establishment’s security forces.

The unprotected MSU Marawi campus with all its troubles was the best choice of the terrorists to recoup their losses and deliver their message of hate and vengeance to all concern.

Not long after the blast, the ISIS group proudly claimed responsibility over the unimaginable mayhem.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. William R. Adan, Ph.D., is retired professor and former chancellor of Mindanao State University at Naawan, Misamis Oriental)

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