It is now 31 days since Marawi became a battleground. Checkpoints are a way of life – especially if you’re traveling from the Laguindinga airport in Cagayan de Oro towards Marawi.
I remember the checkpoints in light of recent news reports that Gabriela, the women’s organization, has expressed alarm over reports that the military and police have threatened to rape women in evacuation centers. Both the military and police today denied this and asked Gabriela to “substantiate its claims.”
In a radio interview today, AFP Spokesperon Restituto Padilla maintained that they respect the Maranao culture, and one of the ways they do so is by ensuring that there are women soldiers in the checkpoints.
We experienced going through several checkpoints. After you clear one checkpoint, another one looms and you can expect another traffic gridlock. We cooperated.
In one checkpoint, one policewoman did not just stop us, she also asked us to open our vehicle, which she really inspected. Harry was in the vehicle but that did not deter her. She asked us what we were doing in the area. I admired her so much that I asked her for a photo. Eventually she allowed us to pass.
Polocemen and soldiers take the checkpoints seriously. I asked one of them how they know who they are looking for. He showed me photos of suspected terrorists and he assured me that they have memorized their faces.
One of the policemen pointed out the photos of the parents of the Maute brothers from among the photos of suspects. He explained that this, through a checkpoint, is how they were captured.When we arrived at Cagayan de Oro’s Laguindingan airport, I was thrilled to see a C130 aircraft on the grounds. It was unloading people and supplies. I have a sentimental affection for for our C130 because I took rides in their older predecessors when I worked as a journalist.
On the way back to Manila from CDO however, it was a different scenario. There was another C130 that night but it was loading civilians, the injured and the dead from three trucks bearing the red cross symbol. That was painful to see. 30