By Masiding Noor Yahya
MARAWI CITY, Lanao del Sur – The fatal shooting at the main campus here of the Mindanao State University (MSU-Marawi) that killed two young Maranao students received strong condemnations from the university administration and other sectors.
In a statement, MSU President Habib W. Macaayong said, “This abominable act of violence is an assault on the Ideals that we as a civilized, God-fearing and peace-loving Muslim community live by.”
P/Col. Christopher W. Panapan, head of Lanao del Sur Police Provincial Office identified the victims as Omar Maruhom Zainal, 23, engineering student and Hamza Ariong Rauf, 24, physical education student of the same university.
Panapan said the victims were both natives of Baloi, Lanao del Norte.
A Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) was already created to ensure fast-tracking of the investigation in bringing the perpetrators behind bars, he added.
Witnesses said the gunman casually approached the victims at a pathway near the graduate school building of the state-run university and repeatedly shot Rauf and Omar before fleeing on a motorcycle driven by a cohort at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.
Both victims died on the spot. Four empty shells from a cal. 40 pistol were found at the crime scene.
Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region director Brig. Gen. Eden Ugale directed the Marawi City police to immediately identify and arrest the killers of the two students, said the media.
Marawi City is the capital of Lanao del Sur, a component-province of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Member of Bangsamoro Parliament Rasol Y. Mitmug Jr. has also expressed condemnation on the killing.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the killing of two students at Mindanao State University – Marawi yesterday,” Mitmug said.
“We call upon the school administration and the authorities to fully investigate this incident, to bring the perpetrators to trial and ensure that the victims’ families receive justice,” he said.
Mitmug said all should work together to bring justice to the senseless killing of the victims. “This should not be happening. We cannot allow such acts to continue and disrupt the lives of the community,” he added.
Police is eyeing rido (clan feud) as reason behind the killing of the two students.
Marawi police chief LtCol. Nelson Madiwo told reporters they are exploring this as a possible motive, citing the Maranaw culture.
Madiwo said initial investigations also revealed the killing of the two students might have been triggered by a video of an unidentified Maranaw woman allegedly posted on social media by the two victims.
Vow to uncover the truth
The MSU administration vowed to discover the truth and to lead the effort to bring the perpetrators before the bar of justice. “They must pay for their crime,” emphasized the MSU statement.
The MSU main administration appealed for calm and sobriety.
“While authorities go about their job of investigating the heinous crime and determining the identities of the people involved, the public is cautioned to do its part by avoiding wanton speculations that could only sow confusion and spread fear or panic,” it added. (MNY)