DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Evacuees who are returning to Marawi City are urging officials to allow them participate directly in the planning stage and even in the actual rehabilitation.
In an interview Tuesday, October 31, Samira Gutoc-Tomawis, a Marawi evacuee and leader of the Ranao Rescue Team, said they want to be part of the Task Force Bangon Marawi which oversees the rehabilitation of the war-torn city.
“We want a formal vote. We need to be consulted about their plans,” Gutoc said. It’s difficult if we are not in the drafting and we are not consulted,” she said.
The local government units of Marawi City and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao held a People’s Day activity on Monday, October 30 in Marawi City in support of the return of the internally displaced persons (IDP) affected by the conflict which lasted for almost five months.
Some residents were allowed to return to cleared and non-affected areas in Marawi City starting Sunday, October 29.
One of the issues raised by Gutoc-Tomawis is the temporary shelter units, thousands of which are targeted by the government to finish this year.
She said they do not agree with the government in assigning residents to clusters where they are relevant.
“It’s about billions-worth of project supposed to be implemented. Don’t just build buildings, build peace,” she said.
She said they want the government to “give it back to the people their right to build their own residence.”
“We need to organize the IDPs and respect their decisions in building houses,” she added. She said it would be best if the government will provide cash and livelihood assistance to the IDPs.
Meanwhile, Lanao del Sur Assemblyman Zia Alonto Adiong said the government can accommodate civil society organizations in peacebuilding mechanisms to aid in strengthening the relationship of the government and the people.
However, to have an official seat in the task force will be up to the Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM), Adiong said.
“They wanted to be part of the Task Force Bangon Marawi, but that’s entirely for the TFBM to decide, because they wanted to be part of all the subcommittees,” he said.
He, however, said it is better if technical issues will be left to experts and civil society organizations who will take part in “strengthening the communication lines.” (davaotoday.com)