Though a recently rediscovered 1953 presidential decree had made 6000 hectares of Marawi City and neighboring towns a military reservation, the Armed Forces said on Monday that they had no intention of turning the whole area into a garrison.
"We would like to assure the occupants of, especially, of these lands, na dineklara pong part of the military reservation by a presidential proclamation, we would like to assure you that the military will not claim any land that it does not need," Joint Task Force Ranao Deputy Commander Col. Romeo Brawner said on GMA 7 news program "24 Oras".
The 1953 decree had given the military rights over a large swath of land, which included the bulk of Marawi City; parts of Marantao, Piagapo, and Saguiran towns; as well as a portion of Lake Lanao.
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Assemblyman Zia Alonto Adiong had warned that turning the Marawi area into a military reservation would exacerbate problems with the Maranao people, who were also claiming the same territory as their ancestral lands.
"We do not see any way that the civilian authorities will just sit down and just do nothing," Adiong had said. "So I guess, sabi ko nga, this is a big presidential decree and basis of this claim of the Moro people is based on historical precedence, historical evidence." — Margaret Claire Layug/DVM, GMA News