OFWs to kin in Mindanao: Be vigilant, we're praying for you
Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who have relatives in Mindanao, which is now under martial law amid threats from local terrorist groups, are advising them to stay vigilant and to always pray that they remain safe.
"Just take care, pray, and believe that this will just last for days," said Nielma Biernesa, a 36-year-old data controller in the United Arab Emirates whose family resides in Midsayap, North Cotabato.
"[You] are all in my prayers kasama na mga kababayan natin lalo na mga bata at matatanda. God bless everyone," she said.
Like other OFWs, Biernesa is keeping herself up to date with what's happening in Mindanao, particularly in Marawi City where government troops are battling the Maute group, a local group that has pledged allegiance to the ISIS.
The presence of the Maute group in Marawi was what prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to put the entire Mindanao under martial rule.
"Every day kausap ko naman ang sister-in-law ko na nakatira sa bahay ko. Magkakasama ang pamilya ko sa iisang compound. Alert is there pero okay naman sila," Biernesa said of her relatives in Mindanao.
Lalay Talusan, 39, a part-time cleaner in Russia, likewise advised her loved ones in Shariff Aguak in Maguindanao province to remain vigilant and to keep on praying.
"Always kumukontak [ako] sa kanila. Kanina lang, malinaw naman," she said.
"Sa aking pamilya at mga kaibigan diyan sa Mindanao, be vigilant sa nangyayari sa paligid. Huwag na munang lumabas if hindi rin masyado importante. Mag-iingat parati and pray to almighty Allah," Talusan added.
Though some sectors have criticized the declaration of martial law on the entire Mindanao, OFWs contacted by GMA News Online seem to be in favor of it, though some have reservations.
"As a Mindanaoan who always thinks of a peaceful place and a smooth way of life for each and every person mapa-Muslim, Lumad, o Kristiyano, ito ang kasagutan," Biernesa opined.
Biernesa stressed that her agreement for a temporary rule by military authorities in her home province was only brought by her desire for peace in Mindanao.
"Kung para sa ikakaayos ng gulo at maibalik ang Mindanao sa matiwasay na pamayanan, bakit hindi?" she said.
She urged terror groups in Mindanao to "open their minds" that Mindanao is a home [for] Muslims, Lumads and Christians alike.
Talusan said she has complete trust in Duterte, who is from Mindanao.
"Malaki tiwala ko sa ating mahal na pangulo at alam ko na gagawin niya lahat para sa ikakabuti ng Mindanao," she said. "Kung sa tingin niya ay Martial Law ang makakasugpo sa kaguluhan sa Mindanao, sumasang-ayon ako dahil sawang-sawa na ako sa walang katapusang kaguluhan."
A resident of Davao City for three decades before he moved to the United Arab Emirates, Mark Randall Lamoste said would just leave everything to Duterte, their former mayor.
"Knowing Duterte during his eight years of service as a mayor in the city—he always find and look for agreements and negotiations to maintain peace and order in the city. If walang nangyayari sa sinabi niya, doon na nagda-drastic moves," said the 36-year-old dentist. —KBK, GMA News