COTABATO CITY — Officials will inaugurate this weekend a new municipal hall in the hometown of the founders of the long decimated Maute terror group that had ranted noisily about poor governance in the area and lack of public service facets for marginalized residents.

The construction of the P25-million local government operations center in the hinterland town of Butig, Lanao del Sur was bankrolled by the regional government of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

According to BARMM’s Ministry of the Interior and Local Government (MILG), the new building will be officially opened to the public on Sunday in a symbolic rite to be officiated by Lanao del Sur Gov. Mamintal A. Adiong, Jr., Butig Mayor Dimnatang B. Pansar, BARMM Chief Minister Ahod B. Ebrahim and Regional Local Government Minister Naguib G. Sinarimbo. 

Mr. Adiong said on Thursday that he is thankful to the MILG-BARMM for having provided Butig with a municipal building from where local officials can manage all the barangays in the municipality, now peaceful and dotted with highland resorts frequented by local tourists from towns around and from the provincial capital, Marawi City.

“For us, this new municipal building is a beacon of hope and source of inspiration to continue with our peacekeeping activities in Butig to sustain the peace now that its residents enjoy,” he said.

Butig first hit the news in 2014 when the siblings Omarkhayam and Abdullah Maute hoisted the banner of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in one of its barangays, imposed a ruthless justice system on villagers, and launched clandestine attacks on military and police installations and bombings of selected targets.

Members of the Maute clan, along with Abu Sayyaf terrorists from the island provinces of Basilan and Sulu, together laid siege to Marawi City on May 23, 2017, bragging then that they were to establish a puritan Islamic community in the area.

Their religious adventurism triggered a bloody conflict that lasted for five months, resulted in the deaths of more than a thousand people, among them 119 soldiers and policemen, and caused the displacement of no fewer than 300,000 innocent villagers.

The conflict ended on Oct. 16, 2023 after soldiers had killed the brothers Omarkhayam and Adullah and their key Abu Sayyaf supporter, Isnilon Hapilon, in a clash in one of the barangays in Marawi City that they occupied. — John Felix M. Unson