MARAWI CITY (MindaNews / 4 Oct) – Hundreds of volunteers turned up on Wednesday to clean Barangay Matampay of debris, ISIS graffiti, and filth from the four months of fighting that devastated this city
Marawi Mayor Majul Usman Gandamra said they are doing this so when almost 200,000 residents who fled will eventually come home, they will find the city already clean.
“We want to erase any traces of the fighting. We want the residents to come home to a city that is clean,” Gandamra said.
He said the Brigada Marawi they initiated will also clean six other barangays in the western portion of the city that is already considered cleared by the military and police.
The volunteers swarmed on the streets of Barangay Matampay clearing the streets of old tires, blocks of wood and other debris.
Army officers warned them not to touch boxes and not to enter houses and buildings.
A day before, Col. Romeo Brawner, deputy commander of Task Force Ranao, said a total of nine improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and 18 blasting caps were found in one of the houses in Barangay Matampay.
“It was ready to go. We had to destroy it immediately,” Brawner said.
School teacher Casema Sone was elated that she finally was able to see her house in Barangay Matampay after more than four months.
Her happiness was however cut short when military soldiers told her she cannot go inside or approach her two-storey wooden house because they have yet to clear it.
“I do not know if my refrigerator, sala set and the clothes of children are still there,” Sone said as she looked into her house from the roadside.
Another school teacher, Cairon Bula, led her fellow teachers in cleaning up the entrance of their school Hadji Saripa Elementary School.
They too cannot enter their school because the military forbids them for fear there are still IEDs left behind by the ISIS-Maute gunmen.
Brawner said the soldiers have cleared Barangay Matampay of ISIS-Maute gunmen in June but have yet to clear the school and houses of hidden explosives. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)