A NETWORK composed of displaced Marawi residents and civil society groups has urged the national government “to accelerate its efforts on rebuilding the City of Marawi by prioritizing the immediate, safe and dignified return of the displaced families back to their places of origin” as President Rodrigo Duterte is heading for his final State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Monday, July 26, 2021.
“In our view, the rehab efforts are a dismal failure. For one, the government has backtracked on its promises and failed at consulting relevant stakeholders on implementing the programs for rehabilitation. Until now, hundreds of Marawi IDPs (internally displaced persons) remain in temporary shelter communities,” said Amenodin Cali, Chairman of the Kalimudan sa Ranao Foundation and one of the leaders of Marawi Advocacy Accompaniment (MAA).
“They are showing the outsiders a new and beautiful Marawi but the reality is they are rebuilding the Islamic City the wrong way without being mindful of our culture, tradition and beliefs as a people. They are constructing large-scale infrastructures that the people of Marawi don’t actually need,” added Professor Tirmizy Abdullah, another MAA leader from the Institute for Peace and Development in Mindanao-Mindanao State University.
In their “State of Marawi Bakwit’ on Saturday, July 24, the group also handed down their verdict on the efforts of the government to rehabilitate Marawi and unveiled a makeshift plaque “to symbolize the bakwits disgust over the government’s handling of Marawi’s rehabilitation.”
“...Four years after the siege, most of the government’s promises including providing just compensation for the damages of livelihood and properties of the affected families and the immediate return of the displaced back to Marawi remain unfulfilled,” MAA said in a statement to Sunstar Philippines.
Citing data from Mindanao Displacement Dashboard of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, MAA said a total of 25,355 families (126,775 individuals) are still reportedly displaced in various parts of Lanao province and Marawi City in the aftermath of the 2017 siege.
“If this government values transparency and accountability in governance, then if necessary, heads must roll. They need to conduct an independent probe on what really happened in Marawi and how the budget for rehabilitation of the city has been spent since 2017. The people have the right to know how their taxes are being spent,” said Abdullah.
In a statement, MAA said that “truth, justice and accountability must be pursued within a transitional justice framework to comprehensively address the roots of the conflict that took place in Marawi four years ago.”
According to the group, they have been advocating for a truth-telling process on the missing and dead civilians during the Marawi siege and documentation of the dead in the mass grave near Marawi’s most affected areas since 2017.
MAA maintained that “the delays in the Marawi rehabilitation coupled with the neglect of the voices of communities in the city’s ‘ground zero’ contribute further not only to the trauma still being endured by the ‘bakwits’ due to the Marawi siege but also on the century-old narrative of marginalization, discrimination and social deprivation.”
Earlier this month, Task Force Bangon Marawi chief and Housing czar Eduardo del Rosario warned critics to spare Marawi’s rehabilitation efforts from "vicious politics and vested interests."
"If you mean well as alleged Maranao leader, be part of the solution and not be part of the problem by spreading unfounded and deceitful public statement. Instead, let us unite for Marawi to rise as a prosperous and peaceful city again,” the official said.
The national government expressed confidence that Marawi "will be completely rebuilt" at the end of Duterte’s term. (SunStar Philippines)