Displaced Marawi residents stage rally to demand return to ruined homes

MARAWI CITY (MindaNews / 21 March) – Desperate residents of the Islamic City of Marawi City demanded a return to their ruined homes, two years after ISIS-linked militants were defeated by government troops in 2017.

Desperate residents stage a rally in Marawi City on Wednesday (20 March 2019) demanding for their return to their homes inside the city and for an investigation on alleged abuses. MindaNews photo by FROILAN GALLARDO

More than 200 residents and students staged a rally in the city park airing their plight of living in tents and temporary shelters for more than two years.

They later marched to the provincial capitol, two kilometers away, to press members of the House Subcommittee on Marawi Rehabilitation to conduct an investigation on Task Force Bangon Marawi, the lead government agency for the Marawi rehabilitation.

“It is not easy to live in a tent with five children. It is hot and the tent is small for us,” Marawi resident Farina Pagazad said.

Pagazad said they have lived in an evacuation village, designated by government agencies as “Blue Tent,” since they were driven away from her house in downtown Marawi in 2017.

She said she used to have a sari-sari store, a small computer store, and “a good life for a mother of five children.”

“All of that is gone now and here we are. We do not even know if we can go back to our house. I do not even know if I have money to start a new life,” Pagazad lamented.

Hundreds of residents aired the same complaint during the public hearing of the House Subcommittee on the Marawi Rehabilitation chaired by Rep. Makmod Mending (Party-list, AMIN) held at the gymnasium in the Lanao del Sur provincial capitol.

Maranao leader Drieza Liningding asks the House Subcommittee on Marawi Rehabilitation the actual date of return of IDPs to their homes in the city during a public hearing on Wednesday (20 March 2019). Most of the IDPs have yet to return to their homes two years after the fighting in Marawi City displaced them. MindaNews photo by FROILAN GALLARDO

Maranao leader Drieza Liningding said he is demanding an investigation why Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) has yet to start the reconstruction more than a year after the siege ended.

Liningding also called for the resignation of TFBM chair Eduardo del Rosario if residents are unable to return home.

“I want some accountability. The residents have suffered enough,” Liningding said.

TFBM conducted a roadshow on Monday and Tuesday before the public hearing Wednesday.

They also raffled 34 slots for free Hajj trips to Mecca for Marawi residents. Each of these trips is said to cost P200,000 each.

Del Rosario said residents can finally return to their villages to repair or rebuild their homes by the first week of September 2019 after the debris clearing is done by August 30.

He said they have resolved many issues in the reconstruction, including the much-debated land ownership thanks to new surveying technology provided by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Liningding said he would hold Del Rosario to that statement. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)