MARAWI CITY, Philippines — The day after President Rodrigo Roa Duterte declared as liberated the embattled city of Marawi, the city and provincial government units announced they were speeding up the recovery and eventual return of displaced residents in the controlled or cleared areas.
In a press briefing on Wednesday, October 18 at the provincial capitol of Lanao del Sur, the spokesperson of Provincial Crisis Management Committee Zia Alonto Adiong said they have been waiting for the declaration to speed up the recovery measures.
“We cannot act and we cannot do to reintroduce government services and restore facilities without the declaration of the liberation of Marawi City,” he told reporters.
He cited the controlled areas include the city hall, provincial capitol, Amai Pakpak Medical Center, Agus 1 National Power Corporation, Amai Pakpak Central Elementary School.
Adiong cited that the LGUs are currently doing cleanup drive by village clusters, which will be followed by the restoration of basic government services such as electricity and water supply, before allowing residents to return. Coordination with barangay officials is necessary in screening bona fide residents, he added.
Work, small capital
Despite the President’s declaration of liberation on Tuesday, October 17, displaced residents of Marawi are asking for work and financial assistance to start a small business, which was their livelihood before the battles in Marawi began.
“We want work and temporary shelter because our situation here is very difficult,” said Baggie Camora, a resident of Brgy. Banggolo Poblacion, who is one of over 900 evacuees at the covered court in Saguiaran, the town closest to Marawi.
Camora and some other men from the evacuation center sometimes can earn from doing odd jobs around the community, while some women would sell food or cigarettes.
Sohra Angga, from Barangay Papandayan, who has seven kids, lamented her struggle to provide formula milk and diapers for her two youngest daughters, 3 and 1 years old. Like many women with small children, they would sell or swap their relief goods with cash to buy such items that the government does not provide.
Hanifa Arubi Sultan from Barangay Papandayan, who is sharing a tent with another family in an evacuation camp at Brgy. Landa-Gadongan in Balo-i, Lanao del Norte, got six diapers and a pack of powder milk that her two sons (6 and 4 years old) consumed in a day, as relief goods just once since she had evacuated.
“Even if the war is over and we can return to our house, how could we survive there without any source of income?” Hanifa said.
She wanted to ask for small capital to start a store as her source of income. Before the evacuation, her husband used to earn from driving a rented motorbike as public transportation within the city, while she tends a small store selling various goods.
No timeline, master plan yet
Adiong said the general sentiments of the displaced residents is to return and live a normal life. “The focus of LGU right now is to bring back the normalcy of Marawi maskin dito (at least here) in the controlled area,” he said.
However, he cannot provide a specific timeline when the residents can return to the city.
“I cannot exactly give you a deadline basta (as long as) we’re doing our best to speed up. Mahirap na magbigay ng deadline ilang beses na tayo nagbibigay ng deadline…,” he said. (It’s difficult to give a deadline, as we already gave a deadline many times.)
He said the next steps depend on when the clean up drive will be completed. He added that livelihood and peace and order will follow, as part of the rehabilitation, which does not have a master plan yet.(davaotoday.com)