Displaced Marawi residents to discuss state of ‘bakwits’ on July 29

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 26 July) – Displaced Marawi residents will gather – online and offline – on Wednesday, July 29, to discuss the State of Marawi Bakwit (SOMBAK) three years after the “liberation” of the country’s lone Islamic city from the Islamic State-inspired Maute Group and its allies.

The annual gathering is a “response, challenge, and appeal” following President Rodrigo Duterte’s fifth State of the Nation Address on Monday, said Drieza Lininding of the Moro Consensus Group, one of the organizers of the forum.

Lininding said there will be a small gathering of leaders at Kalimudan Center in Marawi CIty, taking into consideration health protocols like social distancing, but majority of the participants will be online.

Samira Gutoc speaking at the State of the Marawi Bakwit (SOMBAK) Address in 2019. Photo from the Facebook page of Drieza Lininding

Duterte declared Marawi “liberated from the terrorist influence” on October 17, 2017 after a five-month fierce fihghting in Marawi but three years later, “the lives of Marawi’s residents remain in limbo, around 17,000 remain in temporary shelters, while 80,000 are displaced in different parts of the country, staying with relatives and host families,” organizers said.

SOMBAK 2020 will discuss key issues in the Duterte administration’s handling of the city’s rehabilitation, including the “fast-tracking” of Marawi rehabilitation and the return of the bakwits (evacuees) or internally displaced persons (IDPs), issues regarding the expiration of tenure and shelter contracts of IDPs; status and sentiments of Marawi residents and IDPs; economic aspects of the rehabilitation process; and the added burdens and dangers brought by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Panelists will include Lininding, Samira Gutoc and other civil society leaders. History Professor Tirmizy Abdullah will be the forum’s moderator.

SOMBAK 2020 will be streamed live on the Balik Marawi Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/BalikMarawi.

Task Force Bangon Marawi

Last month, Task Force Bangon Marawi chair Secretary Eduardo del Rosario told MindaNews they expect the projects of the implementing agencies in Marawi’s Ground Zero or Most Affected Area (MAA) to go full blast by July after President Rodrigo Duterte approved the release of PhP 3.56 bilion pesos last April and May.
Del Rosario said they are still “on target” that the rehabilitation efforts in Marawi would be completed by December 2021.

Residents use their mobile phones to photograph Task Force Bangon Marawi officials and Mayor Majul Gandamra switch on electricity in Zone 1 of the city’s most affected area on Wednesday, 15 July 2020. Marawi City’s commercial district was totally damaged during the five-month siege staged by Islamic State-inspired militants in 2017. MindaNews photo by FROILAN GALLARDO

He said construction work was suspended during the COVID-19 lockdown but “we shifted to humanitarian missions like providing financial aid to about 4,000 families to assist them cope up with the adverse effects of COVID-19 pandemic.”

Special Committee on Marawi Rehabilitation 

The Bangsamoro region’s Special Committee on Marawi Rehabilitation last week finished its third and final public hearing on the situation in Maraiw.

Member of Parliament Anna Tarhata Basman, Vice Chair of the Special Committee and Chair of its Sub-Committee on Marawi Rehabilitation, said they will submit next month a report on the consultations and three hearings – the last of which was held on July 20 – “and we hope this report can help improve the situation of the IDPs despite the much-delayed rehabilitation efforts for Marawi.”

The committee had earlier met with representatives of the IDPs to listen to their narratives, problems encountered and proposed solutions.

IDP representatives, Camp Leaders from the transitory shelters, and representatives of the missing and deceased people during the Marawi Siege attend the 2nd Public Hearing of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority – Special Committee on Marawi Rehabilitation at Mindanao State University, Marawi City in February 2020. Photo courtesy of the Office of MP Basman

On July 13 it listened to the presentations of the activities and plans for Marawi of the Bangsamoro’s ministries of Social Services and Development; Agriculture, Fisheries and Agrarian Reform; Trade, Investment, and Tourism; Public Works; Basic, Higher, and Technical Education; Human Settlements and Development; Health and Finance, Budget and Management; the Bangsamoro Planning and Development Authority and the Bangsamoro Regional Inclusive Development for Growth and Empowerment.

On July 20, the committee met with non-governmental organizations and humanitarian agencies such as the Mindanao Humanitarian Team; the UN High Commissioner for Refugees; Catholic Relief Services; World Food Programme; the International Committee of the Red Cross; the UN Food and Agriculture Organization; International Alert Philippines; Marawi Reconstruction Conflict Watch; and Community and Family Services International.

Basman said among the major issues raised during these conversations include the timeline for the return of the IDPs, the utilization of the 500-million peso Marawi rehab fund from the office of the Chief Minister, and survivors’ call for justice for the missing and the dead.

“By law, it is the national government that has jurisdiction over Marawi rehabilitation. But we can’t just sit and wait. These are our constituents. These are our fellow Bangsamoro,” she said.

“We need to give life to the mandate of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanoa to support and supplement national government initiatives on Marawi rehab, and the only way to do that is to prioritize our IDPs and listen to their needs and sentiments. We will make sure that that is reflected in the report of the Special Committee on Marawi,” she said. (MindaNews)