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Monday, September 16, 2019

Over 3,000 civilians still trapped in Marawi City

AT LEAST 3,023 civilians are trapped inside the besieged communities of Marawi City more than a week after fighting between state security forces and extremists broke out on May 23.

Fifty nine persons are also unaccounted for as of May 31 according to data from from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm) Crisis Management Committee of the Office of the Governor.

Precious Hanara Sharief Solaiman posted on Facebook pictures of some of the missing, 15 young, mid-aged, and old men and women who are still missing in Marawi City. Solaiman said most of them are from Barangay Marinaut in Marawi City.

There is no word, too, on the whereabouts of the in-laws of Zaqreesha-Azzaimah Paudac, both senior citizens, since three days after the May 23 attack. They were last seen in Barangay Tuca .

According to Jayson Alocilja of the Armm Hotlines for stranded or missing persons in Marawi, those trapped and missing are unable to leave their homes.

“Hindi makalabas (ang mga na-stranded) kasi nagbabakbakan. Hindi pa mapasukan ang area (nila). Hindi makapasok ang rescue team (The people stranded cannot go out of their homes because the fire fights are on-going. The rescue team cannot enter their area),” Alocilja, also from the Regional Planning and Development Office of Armm Office of the Governor, said in a phone interview.

Rescue operations cannot be done in areas not yet declared ‘cleared’ by the military such as Banggolo, Raya Madaya I and II; Lilod Madaya, Dagodoban, Padian, Barrio Naga, Marinaut West and East; Caloocan, Pangarungan, and Moncado Colony.

Banggolo, Raya Madaya I and II, and Marinaut have also been damaged by airstrikes, and are, therefore, inaccessible.

Areas declared as clear are Mindanao State University, Matampay, Barangay Datu Saber, and Basak Malutlut.

On Wednesday as well, the AFP, the Marawi City Government, and some Armm agencies were able to rescue 2,379 civilians stranded in their homes and took them to the Lanao del Sur Provincial Capitol, the nearest evacuation center in the City.

The Armm hotlines are continually receiving calls from relatives of the missing persons who have not yet heard from their kinsfolks.

Some of the calls are from the Zamboanga region, General Santos Cty, and Cagayan de Oro City.

In a post by Samira Gutoc, recently resigned member of the Bangsamoro Transition Committee, she called for more volunteers “to assist in the rescue (of missing and stranded individuals after we coordinate with the MILF CCCH, inshallah.”

A United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) minister in Lanao del Sur, meanwhile, said seven non-Muslim teachers of Dansalan College (DC) are still being held hostage by the Maute terror group while 42 other DC staff and personnel are trapped in different parts of the city.

Among the trapped individuals is a two-month old baby, whose parents are DC staff, Reverend Riodel Manzano said, during yesterday's, Mindanao-wide forum on the Marawi Crisis and the martial law declaration.

The Dansalan College is being run by the UCCP and has been serving Marawi City for over 60 years.

One of the hostages is the school principal, the rest are teachers, while the trapped individuals include a student affairs officer, bookkeeper, and secretary of DC's president.

Manzano said in an interview they had lost contact with the trapped persons last May 25.

"The last thing they said is they are running out of water and food, they are starving," Manzano said.

"We are thankful for the rain because in case they really have no water to drink, they can drink rainwater," he said.

Alumni of the said college have been trying to directly connect with persons who can contact the terrorists, but to no avail.

Manzano called on the government to stop the airstrikes which he said, could place the trapped persons and hostages at risk.

"Mao among kahadlok karon nga naay collateral damage, labina kamulo ang airstrike, among panawagan sa pag-ampo, ug panaghiusa sa mga Kristiyano ug mga Moro people (What we fear is that there will be collateral damage, especially that the airstrike is ongoing. We call on the people to pray, and the Christians and Moro people to unite)," he said.

The Dansalan college was nearly burned down by extremists on the first day of the attack.


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