CAGAYAN de Oro City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWD) head Teddy Sabuga-a on Wednesday, May 24, said city officials are rushing to coordinate with various government and non-government agencies to prepare in receiving evacuees fleeing Marawi City.
Sabuga-a said while he has not discussed the possibility of hosting refugees in the city with the City Peace and Order Council, he is expecting the worst following President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to put the entire Mindanao under martial law to better fight the extremists and other rebel groups.
"Well apil na na sa mga possible scenario. Ang importante lang dinhi is naa tay mga just like Balay Mindanao nga naga involve ani nga peace and development ug we need also the help of the inter faith groups. (Well that is one of the possible scenario. What's important is that we have ones like Balay Mindanao who are involved in peace and development and we also need the help of the inter-faith groups)," Sabuga-a said.
In Marawi City, hundreds of people who barricaded themselves in their houses have left the beleaguered city to seek safety with relatives in nearby cities as early as 5 a.m. Wednesday, May 24.
A Maranao citizen who asked to be identified only as Hassan said that people are exiting Marawi City through either the north-bound highway heading to Iligan City and Cagayan de Oro or the west bound road going to the nearby municipalities of Marantao and Balindong.
Hassan said the evacuees are either riding their vehicles or are traveling on foot in groups. Since the mass evacuation this dawn, the streets of Marawi City have been experiencing heavy traffic due to the large volume of vehicles and the multiple Army checkpoints along the roads. Because of this, the travel time to the evacuees' destinations has more than doubled.
"Kanya-kanya na ng lakad at sakay ang mga tao. May kumalat pa nga na text kanina,pero hindi namin alam kung gaano ka-totoo, na binibigyan lang daw kami ng mga limang oras ng army simula alas syete para makaalis kasi huhulugan na daw nila ng bomba ang Marawi mamaya. Pero takot talaga ang dahilan namin para umalis kasi delikado na. (People are leaving on their own. There was even a text that spread earlier but we do not know if it is true that we are only given five hours by the army to leave because they will drop bomb on Marawi City later. But the main reason for our departure is fear because it is really becoming dangerous)," Hassan said.
Hassan is on his way to Cagayan de Oro City with his family.
Maranaos who are in the nearby towns of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro have started to strongly advise their relatives in Marawi City to leave the city immediately.
Jamayesah, who was lucky enough to be in their house in Iligan City at the time of the Isis infiltration, said that she is now awaiting for the arrival of her relatives whom she counseled to go to Iligan before night fall.
"Ang kinakatakutan ko kasi mamaya na lalala ang sistwasyon doon pagdating ng gabi. Kaya pinapababa ko na talaga sila ngayong araw kahit matagal basta makaalis sila doon. (What I am scared of is if the situation gets worse by nightfall. That is why I urged them to go down here today even though it's a long travel just so they can get out of there)," she said.
Lyndon Calica, Lanao del Norte information officer, said Governor Imelda Quibranza-Dimaporo has instructed the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office to prepare for the possible flow of displaced residents from Marawi.
“The governor has ordered the mobilization of the quick response team in case evacuees will arrive from Marawi,” Calica said Wednesday.
He said they have readied evacuation centers in the towns of Balo-i and Pantar. “We are willing to receive them (evacuees).”
Calica added the security forces have also been augmented especially in the two provinces’ boundaries in case the hostilities between government troops and terror groups spill over to Lanao del Norte.
The local government of Iligan City, where most of the Marawi residents sought temporary shelter, has also set up two evacuation sites for the incoming displaced civilians.
Vice Mayor Jemar Vera Cruz said Wednesday afternoon, the CDRRMO has identified the Iligan City National School of Fisheries in Barangay Buru-un and the Iligan City National High School in Barangay Mahayahay as evacuation centers.
“The CDRRMO has already been advised to prepare food packs and other basic necessities for the evacuees,” Vera Cruz said.
As of Wednesday evening, May 24, most of the evacuees are staying at their relatives or at their second homes in Iligan, he said.