Blackouts affect Ramadhan rites of Maranao folks PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 04 July 2014 11:56

Ethnic Maranaos are seeking refuge in cities and towns far from Lanao del Sur for a more convenient observance of the Ramadhan owing to the perpetual power outage in 32 of the 39 towns in the province.

Maranao folks, known as people of the lake, now say they can only hope for divine intervention that can relieve them from the pangs of what is for them a “man-made calamity” resulting from the alleged connivance among some leaders in the province and their benefactors in Metro Manila.

“We can only turn to Allah now after our leaders, including the President ignored the misery we are in,” student Samsoddin Cosain, 16, said in the Maranao vernacular.

Cosain said the total darkness in their homes forced him and about 200 other students from the 32 affected towns in Lanao del Sur to join relatives in the cities of Davao, General Santos, Cagayan de Oro, Kidapawan, Digos and Koronadal, where they can study better and observe the month-long atonement season conveniently.

“In the first two Ramadhan `taraweeh’ nighttime prayers, I asked Allah to sway all parties concerned to set aside their vested interests and restore the supply of electricity to our homes.” Cosain said.

Another Maranao student,  Ismael Sumayan, 17, said their hopes for a Ramadhan-inspired truce among protagonists in the “politically-motivated” conflict causing the Lanao del Sur power problem has started to wane, so with their wishes for a prompt presidential intervention on the issue.

Human rights lawyer Bayan Balt said the Regional Trial Court  Branch 10 in Marawi City already issued an injunction on June 16, and an amended resolution directing the Lanao del Sur Electric Cooperative (Lasureco) to restore the supply of power to the 32 towns.

Supply of electricity to the affected towns were cut by Lasureco after the May 13, 2013 local polls, following the defeat of the favored candidates for local elective positions of an official of the cooperative. Lasureco linemen restored power, in compliance with the court order, but only to areas along highways straddling through the 32 affected towns.

Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal Adiong Jr., taking the cudgel for the affected towns, asked early this year President Benigno Aquino III and and Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla to investigate on the alleged mismanagement of Lasureco by its manager, Ashary Maongco.

The House of Representatives already initiated a congressional inquiry on the issue last March 6 in Marawi City, where mayors and representatives of other Maranao sectors accused Maongco of using the Lasureco to push his political interests forward.

About two months after the congressional inquiry, a group called Sautol Haq (voice of truth) surfaced, with Maongco and some political adversaries of the Adiong family acting as organizers, began attacking the incumbent governor via social media and local media outfits, accusing him of amassing ill-gotten wealth.

Maongco and fellow Sautol Haq organizers, including defeated gubernatorial candidates Alim Mohammad Sarangani, and Dimapuno Ramos-Datu, and lawyer Salic Dumarpa, an unsuccessful Congressional aspirant during the May 2013 polls, filed “graft and terrorism charges” against Adiong before the Ombudsman.

A couple of weeks later, 27 mayors filed, also before the Ombudsman, plunder and criminal charges against Lasureco officials, in connection with the “questionable disbursements” of huge government grants for projects intended to benefit power consumers in Lanao del Sur. Two officials of the National Electrification Administration have also been charged along with Maongco.