By Ali G. Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – Interim Bangsamoro Parliament member Zia Alonto-Adiong has batted for a review of internal security measures at the Mindanao State University (MSU) in Marawi City as he lamented another shooting incident in the campus premises that left one person killed and three others wounded on Tuesday, Sept. 27.
“Last (Tuesday) night, another shooting incident occurred within the premises of the Mindanao State University and reports indicate that innocent bystanders were included as casualties. We still haven’t moved on from the previous killings, yet here we are again with another crime scene,” Adiong said in his Facebook post on Wednesday.
Adiong hinted at campus stakeholders’ worries about the “spate” of unsolved killings in the 60-year old campus, one of which happened on Sept. 21, also a Tuesday, when two students named as Omar Zinal and Hamzah Rauf died on the spot when shot at point blank in their heads at a dim section of the MSU commercial center by still unidentified motorcycle-riding gunman.
Police investigators probed on two possible angles – one was family “feud” involving relatives of one of the fatalities, and another attributed to the victims’ being gays that allegedly caught the ire of an extremist ideological group, said an earlier report attributed to outgoing Marawi City police chief Lt. Col. Nelson Madiwo.
Lanao del Sur Gov. Bombit Alonto-Adiong and City Mayor Majul Gandamra had reportedly condemned the killing of the two students, and called for thorough investigation to identify and prosecute any suspects who remained at large.
Unlike in the earlier incident, the latest shooting enabled security authorities to promptly arrest two suspects named as Sohaily Arindig Ampuan and Raffy Madale, the MSU Department of Security Services (DSS) said in a report.
The report said two armed suspects allegedly approached one Samanoding Macadaag in a restaurant at Barangay Salam (Lomidong) and fired several shots that instantly killed him and wounded three others. Two of the wounded were identified as Salic Macatanto Alawi Sarip and Mohammad Salic Ampuan Hadji Salic Jr. and the third was a child still unnamed, it added.
MP Adiong strongly condemned “the recent spate of violence inside the university,” urging the authorities to review or “re-evaluate the security measures of the campus.”
“We must take a collective stand and end this culture of violence that pervades our society,” said Adiong, grandson of the MSU founder – late former Senator Domocao Alonto Sr.
“On many occasions, I have asserted that MSU is a zone of peace where our youth can pursue their dreams of a brighter future. It is a beacon of hope and learning, a place where one can seek enlightenment and cultivate the values of peaceful co-existence and harmony,” he stressed.
He said committing “violence inside the university is a blatant disregard for its ideals (and) is a violation of the sanctity of the University and an upfront to the peace-loving community of Lanao del Sur.”
Adiong’s post drew reaction from Reehana Macaayong, wife of MSU president Habib Macaayong, echoing the DSS report that the latest incident happened “outside the university premises jurisdiction.”
But residents of Barangay Salam (Lomidong) argued that their village is located “almost at the center” of the campus, saying the crime scene (restaurant) is a stone throw away from the MSU infirmary and two students’ dormitories.
Former Autonomous region Vice Governor Haroun Al-Rashid Alonto-Lucman Jr., nephew of the late Senator Alonto, wrote earlier a column in the Philippine Muslim Today news, lamenting the proliferation of “squatting” settlers inside the MSU main campus.
Faculty and administrative personnel have confirmed that the number of “unauthorized” civilian houses inside MSU campus was three times more than government buildings in the campus.
Some of the “unauthorized” residences are reportedly owned by politicians, who could be tangled in rivalries that tend to pose security problems in the academic campus, they said.
The DSS report attributed the latest shooting incident to a clannish feud or rido. (AGM)