MY, MY, MY MARAWI: Finally, Our (Partial) Return to Marawi

ILIGAN CITY (MindaNews / 21 October) —  Assalam. For lack of time, here are my open forum inputs in the Department of Health’s (DOH) Task Force on Return to Marawi Planning held yesterday.

USec Yano, USec Hope , City Mayor Majul Gandamra’s team and fellow workers Assalam, good morning. I am here for civil society.

After that fateful day May 23 when Government had no forced evacuation plan, thank you for this return plan (to nine barangays in the safe areas involving at least 5,000 families), thank you for the preparations and readiness. A belated thank you to all your work and efforts, we thank the soldiers who have departed Marawi, saw their fellows perish.

We urge this process be civilian-led without discounting AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) leadership on the ground as Joint Task Force Ranaw continues to manage martial law. Let civilians work this time, on all governance needs so we go back to normalcy and our lives while noting the need for bayanihan for the rest of the war zone evacuees.

We urge coordination by all especially stakeholders, and thank you for the plan to have TWO barangay consultations.

Right now in our CSO (civil society organizations) chatroom, some are offering assistance to accompany concerned barangays. The Prelature (of Marawi) will even support the logistics of some evacuees returning.

We thank the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for the cash assistance coming. We urge a fast lane be set up to release the amount for personnel, rescuers, imams and crisis service workers.

We recommend the following:

– one stop shop as Mahogany Hills action center is distant – one date for evacuees to converge and fill up requirements to enter Marawi in an accessible location.
– information systems – activate wifi signals in Marawi (as traffic will ensue); hotlines; advisories thru social media, text, etc
– calendar of return be posted , announced (on planned one barangay per day) .

We remind the seats needed for bakwit and CSO to be part of decision making of the whole rehabilitation reconstruction recovery process.

We thank you again, Wassalam , thank you Almighty, we are in support of these efforts.

On a side note, I agree with Atty Aleem Hamid Barra, that the “liberation” of Marawi is not a time of celebration, so this return is not really celebratory for how can we be happy when majority of Marawi homes, market and plaza are gone… (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Samira Ali Gutoc-Tomawis, Ll.B., co-founder of the Young Moro Professionals resigned as Commissioner of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission in late May, days after the Marawi Crisis started, citing personal reasons and policy questions. Samira is one of the organizers of the Ranao Rescue Team, a group set up to respond to the crisis. She had earlier served as an  assemblywoman, women sector, of the Regional Legislative Assembly, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and was former director, Al-Amanah Islamic Bank, Inc. and former director of the Marawi Resort Hotel, Inc.)