(Statement of the Marawi Civil Society and IDP leaders on “Walk for Marawi,” a march from Children’s Playground to the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology )
Today, we march to show our continuing disgust to government’s failure to ensure our dignified return to our war-ravaged communities in Marawi City.
It has been exactly 1,004 days since we were uprooted from our homes to escape the siege by militants espousing violent extremism. But after the much-vaunted “Marawi liberation” and the much-touted “bombs and debris clearing” operations, there are still walls of uncertainties that bar us from going back and rebuilding our lives.
At the height of the five-month long war in 2017, we watched helplessly as our beloved Marawi was pounded by bombs and artillery in a bid to decimate a handful of state enemies.
Today, we cannot allow ourselves to be rendered helpless again as we are being denied our rights to return to our homes and communities.
At the height of the five-month long war in 2017, we asked President Duterte to allow dialogue to work so that the militants leave the city and spare it from ruin.
Today, with a ruined city, we still seek dialogue with our national policymakers, optimistic that, this time, our calls will not fall on deaf ears.
We are faced with the difficulty of coming to terms with the reality of returning to a devastated city. For all its flaws, Marawi, or the Dansalan of old, was an irreplaceable heritage bequeathed to us by our forebears.
And today, we owe it to our children and the next generation of Meranaws to hand them a city rebuilt according to our cultural moorings.
We would like to tell government that we, internally displaced Marawi residents, have no intention to block efforts at the rehabilitation of our own city. Rather, we wanted the rehab to go full steam, and we think this can happen alongside us rebuilding our own private homes.
We hope a commission can be established to look into the deeper issues of Marawi’s rehabilitation, beyond the physical infrastructure, and also look into issues of implementation of an ambitious roadmap that required enormous sums of money.
We hope to see a Marawi rehabilitation body that has clout over implementing agencies, and is proactive and responsive to legitimate concerns of the affected people through a built-in mechanism for citizen participation and oversight.
We pray to the Almighty to guide our words into the hearts and minds of our country’s leaders, that they may understand the situation we face and the pain we continue to undergo.
Cognizant of our recent experience, we further pray for social cohesion in our country where peace, harmony, inclusion, human dignity and respect is upheld, and discrimination and persecution are put to an end.
Safe, Dignified and Unconditional Return of Marawi IDPs, Now!
MARAWI CIVIL SOCIETY and IDP LEADERS
February 21, 2020