CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Close to 400 Marawi residents have filed a class suit against government officials for being prevented from returning to the city more than two years after Pres. Rodrigo Duterte declared Marawi to be “liberated” from armed extremists.

According to lawyer Salic Dumarpa, chairman of Go Right Foundation Inc., the residents filed the civil action suit against Eduardo del Rosario, Housing chairman who also heads the Task Force Bangon Marawi, and Marawi Mayor Majul Gandamra, for Mandamus with Prayer for Writ of Preliminary Mandatory Injunction before the Regional Trial Court in Marawi on Wednesday (Dec. 4).

“We hope that it will be acted upon immediately,” Dumarpa said, referring to the Mandamus, during a press conference here Thursday (Dec. 5).

The class suit, Dumarpa said, was filed in behalf of the more than 100,000 people who had to flee from the months-long fighting in Marawi.

He said it is their group’s desire that the court will act on their prayer so it could order the government, through del Rosario and Gandamra, to facilitate the fast return of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to their respective homes in Marawi’s most affected area (MAA).

Dumarpa said they doubt the sincerity of the government in its rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts in Marawi.

Promises that were made by national officials have yet to be fulfilled prompting them to resort to filing the Mandamus, he added.

Dumarpa also said their case is not based on indignation and impatience alone but on evidence.

“We have more than sufficient evidence to convince the court that indeed it is about time that the government allows the immediate return of the IDPs,” Dumarpa said.

In their petition, the petitioners said their “standard of living, work, business, livelihood and other source of income have been seriously affected and many of their children have stopped schooling, this placing their future into uncertainty as a result of their present status as IDPs.”

This status, they said, “will continue to be jeopardized and impoverished if the respondents are not immediately directed to facilitate the return of petitioners to their homes in Ground Zero, Marawi City, where they can freely enjoy their life, liberty and property.”

In a TFBM press briefing held here on Nov. 28, 2019, Roderick Ibañez of the National Housing Authority, said they have received more than a thousand building permit applications from structure owners inside the MAA.

Of those, he said, 200 building permits have already been issued while the rest are still on process.

He said that only lot owners who are in the Kathanor system and the social cartography of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources will be granted the building permit.

In the same press briefing, del Rosario said that to resolve the issue of overlapping claims on properties in Marawi, those who can present proof of ownership will be given building permit.(

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