Over the past years, Mindanao State University Marawi Campus (MSU) has confronting problem concerning to the security system because of increasing unresolved criminal cases in the campus, the 2013 ambushed and cross-firing between the military and unknown group, last 2016 the non-cooperation raids of the military in the campus because of the reportedly found improvised explosive device (IED), and recently, the Marawi crisis which made the campus unsafe for the students, faculty, and staffs from MINSUPALA region and from all over the country.
The on-going Marawi crisis has plagued everyone especially to those who are directly affected tri-people students of MSU Marawi. The campus is approximately two kilometres away from the downtown of Marawi City where the armed conflict was heavily concentrated. Further, the MSU Marawi have 14, 000 tri people-students and dominantly represent the poor provinces in Mindanao (Lanao Del Sur, Maguindanao, Agusan Del Sur, Agusan Del Norter, and Surigao).
During the first week of the crisis, the students in the campus was frightened and unsecured because the bombs and series artillery gunshots was very clear in the campus premise. Further, the student were rescued a bit slowly in the campus due to some circumstances and delayed response from the MSU Administration.
The tri-people student recognized that MSU Marawi was never been safe primary because of the insufficient and lack of security mechanism of the campus, more so, with the kind of set up where people can easily in and out of the campus which add to the vulnerability of the campus. This was alarming for the students because there were unknown people allegedly engaged in recruitment in the campus and these people might be a member of the extremist group. There were also people engaged in illegal activities in the campus that also threaten the academic activities of the students. What’s really disturbing, it was never been deterred and until now, the perpetrators are still wandering freely.
Now, the marawi crisis was a huge and clear manifestation that the MSU campus is not safe anymore, till now, military airstrikes and crossed-firing are still perpetual in the downtown. The conflict has overdue enough and the MSU operation was enormously affected. The graduation rites that supposedly to be hold in the MSU Dimaporo Gym was cancelled, the summer class was moved in Iligan City, and now the opening classes for first semester are still determine due to major considerations.
As a student of MSU Marawi we really want to go back to our second home, we believe that MSU Marawi is not comparable to other higher institutions. Aside from that, MSU is not just a learning institution but it was mandated for social integration of tri people in Mindanao in pursuit for peace and development. Conversely, there are factors that the MSU Administration should consider why students and their family are frighten and still have uncertainties about resuming the classes in the campus.
We understand the intent of the MSU administration to send back the students in the campus by telling that the MSU Campus is now safe for academic activity while bombs, airstrikes, and series of gunshot are perpetual; to discouraged all public and private higher institutions in Mindanao to accept MSU Marawi students; and by telling the students that tuition fee and other fees will be free without a clear guidelines.
As a student, it is very unfair and elusive to have those impetuous decisions from higher authority of the MSU Marawi. Indeed, the students acknowledged the efforts of the MSU Administration however, we also need to have an imperative and systematic plans in response to the abnormal condition not just by saying MSU is now safe. If in case the conflict will be finished soon which I doubt with extension of martial law, the students also need an assurance concerning to the level of security mechanism centred on the rights and welfare of the students and not just by militarizing the campus.
It is a colossal challenge for the MSU Administration if there will be a huge decrease of the students, especially, there are already confirmed information that most of the students from CARAGA will be transferring to other higher institutions. Hitherto, the MSU Admin still unresponsive and there are no clear directives to where and when the classes will be resume.
Hence, we appeal to the MSU President and his administration to provide us options and imperative actions about the plans of resuming the classes. We demand to hear our sentiments and frustrations. And lastly, we see that in every decision are made by the MSU Administration, the student are directly affected so we demand students participation in the decision-making.