Marawi residents assert ownership through tarpaulins and spray-painting of names

MARAWI CITY (MindaNews/ 12 May) — Facing uncertainties, desperate Marawi residents in Ground Zero, have resorted to posting their names or their store’s names through tarpaulins, iron sheets, plywood and spray-paints to assert ownership of their properties.

The tarpaulins and other makeshift signages bearing their names are displayed on walls, roofs, posts of their heavily-damaged buildings.

Many property owners also spray-painted their names on the remaining walls of their buildings.

“We have to put these signs so the government will know we are the owners of this rubble,” said Norsaly Saly, whose family owns three hardware stores and a boarding house building.

Uncertainty is written on the face of a resident as he paused briefly to rest in Marawi City’s Ground Zero during the Kambisita sa MAA (Most Affected Area) on May 9, 2018. MindaNews photo by FROILAN GALLARDO

The visit of families in the last of nine sectors in Ground Zero, the former main battle area between government forces and the ISIS-inspired Maute Group and its allies, was marred with the arrest of some 100 youngsters caught looting last May 10.

Task Force Marawi deputy commander Col. Romeo Brawner said the youngsters were eventually released to the Marawi City Social Welfare and Development the following morning.

Assistant Secretary Felix Castro, Field Manager of Task Force Bangon Marawi, said a total of 7,799 families or 57,100 persons were able to visit their properties inside Marawi City from April 1 to May 3, 2018. Records for the last two sectors — Sector 8 on 4,5,6 and Sector 9 on May 8, 9 and 10.

A resident prepares to hang the tarpaulin printed with the name of the property owner and mobile phone number on the facade of what used to be their store in Marawi City’s Ground Zero on May 9, 2018. MindaNews photo by FROILAN GALLARDO

Castro said residents assisted by troops found human remains consisting of four skulls and four skeletal bones.

At the end of the fighting in Marawi City in October 23, the military has still to account for the exact number of hostages and terrorists.

A landowner paints a sign on the wall of his ruined building in Marawi City’s Ground Zero on May 9, 2018. MindaNews photo by FROILAN GALLARDO

President Rodrigo Duterte visited Marawi City on Friday where he appealed for time to complete the rehabilitation efforts.

Duterte assured residents they can have their properties soon after the demolition of ruined buildings can be completed.

“We will return the properties to the rightful owners once the downtown area is cleared,” Duterte told an audience of local government and military officials at the Lanao del Sur provincial capitol gym Thursday night.

Duterte said he envisions breaking the rest of the 6,000 hectare military reservation and turn them over to poor residents for farming.

Castro said most of the properties in Marawi lay within a military reservation signed by then President Elpidio Quirino in 1953.

He said the process of clearing Marawi City of ruined buildings will take up to ten months. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)