YOUNG internally displaced persons in strife-torn Marawi City deemed Jihadist militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis) as “heroes,” chairperson of Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) said on Thursday.
PSC chair William Ramirez said that when the commission conducted Children’s Games for Peace program in Iligan City last week, its sports coaches found that some young Marawi “bakwits” or internally displaced persons believed that Isis are “their heroes.”
Ramirez said such discovery was “not an ordinary feedback” the PSC usually received on its sports for peace program.
“At the end of the activities, we found out that the children were happy and they started playing with Christians also. But there was one observation that we had: That most of our Filipino children consider other people as heroes – sports heroes, military heroes,” Ramirez told Palace reporters.
“But here, we don’t have research – this is not scientific, but it was written by our coaches when he had our Children’s Game for Peace. [We found] that some, if not many of these Marawi bakwit children, they consider Isis as their heroes,” he added.
The armed conflict in Marawi City enters its 65th day as the security forces continue to stage offensives against Isis-affiliated Maute terror group who stormed the war-torn city last May 23 with a goal to establish it as caliphate for Southeast Asian fighters.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the death toll in the battle between government troops and Maute rebels has risen to 625, as of July 26. The reported casualties include 469 Islamist gunmen, 45 civilians, and 111 security personnel.
The two-month siege in Marawi has also displaced over 460,000 people, according to government data. Around 100,000 of the displaced individuals are reportedly staying in Iligan City.
Following the Marawi crisis, Mindanao has been placed under martial law until end of December 2017 in a bid to quell rebellion in the south.
Ramirez said the government must be “alarmed” over the perception of the displaced Marawi children that Isis are “heroes.”
To counter their belief, he said the PSC was mulling to visit them and reinforce “early peace-making” among the children.
“We were alarmed so I told our sports psychologists to take note of that… The PSC’s resolution –we’re not experts anyway – we come up with some resolution to teach early peace-making, early playing, early activities among the children,” Ramirez said. (SunStar Philippines)