“You have to kill me first before you can even touch them!” – Farida
“I never minded the danger. I was prepared to die first before they (terrorists) could harm the Christians” – Zaynab
ILIGAN CITY- Two Maranao women confront terrorists to defend Christians in Marawi City. The terrorists from the Maute group attacked locals on Tuesday. Following the brawl, the President Duterte declared martial law in all of Mindanao.
“When a group of terrorists barged into the gun store in Basak Malutlut ‘Ma’am Farida confronted them’,” recalled Cris who lived with his family in Marawi.
“The confrontation was really eye to eye, which indicated the seriousness of the message and the personal resolve that Ma’am Farida was showing [to the gunmen],” Cris added.
The group’s leader ordered the guns and ammunition in the store hauled off and questioned Farida about her employees.
Farida stood between her 13 male employees who were huddled together and the group of about 10 terrorists.
“You have to kill me first before you can even touch them!” Cris quoted Farida, speaking in the Maranao language, as telling the terrorists, mostly boys in their late teens.
Farida’s family owns two gun stores in Marawi, one in Basak Malutlut and another in Banggolo district, which was also looted. 17 workers are employed at the stores most of who live with their families at a compound in Bask Malutlut. Most of the them have been employed by Farida for more than a decade.
At the start of the siege, 13 of the employees were in the Basak Malutlut store while four where in the Banggolo store. Had the terrorists seized them, their families would have been taken, too, Cris said.
Cris said he believed that because the gun store employees were not harmed, the terrorists might have been interested in their technical skills. When the terrorists left, Farida ordered the employees to get their families and led them to a relative’s house in Bangon, 6 kilometers away, Cris said.
There they were fetched by Farida’s uncle and taken to the family home in Padian, near the lake, where they were joined by the four other employees from the Banggolo gun store.
The following day, they crossed the lake to Binidayan town and from there traveled to Iligan City.
At about 5 p.m. on Tuesday, as the terrorists took control of Marawi’s main districts, Zaynab, a development and humanitarian relief worker, was counting Christians who had taken refuge in the center.
The following day, she gathered 20 of them, several staffers and a family member, and put them in vehicles that took them to Iligan, traveling the long southern route through Malabang to avoid the gridlock on the Iligan-Marawi road.
They traveled for 15 hours—thrice the normal time of the ride to Iligan—skipping meals, which was risky for a diabetic like Zaynab.
“I never minded the danger. I was prepared to die first before they (terrorists) could harm the Christians,” she said.