From sleeping on soft beds to sleeping on mats on the floor – Marawi ‘bakwits’

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 29 July) – “From sleeping on soft beds, we are reduced to sleeping on mats on the floor.”

Drieza Liningding speaks during the State of Marawi Bakwit (SoMBak 2020). Screengrab from Liningding’s Facebook page

These is how Marawi “bakwits” or internally displaced persons (IDPs) describe three years of living in the cramped, squalid temporary shelters that dotted the skyline outside the ruined city.

“One hundred fifty-six IDPs share one faucet for water,” lamented Bai Mikmik Pumbaya, an IDP who lives in a temporary shelter in Barangay Pindolonan, Saguiaran town in Lanao del Sur.

“We do not even have enough water to wash our hands,” she said, citing health officials’ advise to prevent COVID-19 infection.

Local civil society groups gathered the IDPs in Marawi City to tell their stories on how the government have allegedly neglected their plight three years after they were uprooted from the Islamic City.

The multi-sectoral group called the gathering “State of Marawi Bakwit” or SoMBak 2020 and live-streamed on Facebook, Zoom, and other online apps Wednesday morning.

The group said this is in response to the State of the Nation Address (SONA) wherein President Rodrigo Duterte made no mention of the Marawi rehabilitation.

“Eto ang totoong SONA. Eto ang totoong kalagayan naming bakwit sa Marawi,” the group said in a statement.

“We do not want to be forgotten. We have to appeal again that we existed,” CSO leader Tirmizy Abdullah said.

The multi-sectoral group said more than 17,000 families or 126,000 individuals are living in temporary shelters around Marawi City.

A big family crowds a small temporary shelter in Barangay Sagonsongan in Marawi City. MindaNews file photo by BOBBY TIMONERA

Another 80,000 families are displaced in different parts of the country, the group said.

“The bakwits are facing bigger and bigger problems every day. Now they are facing a deadlier problem in COVID-19,” CSO leader Drieza Liningding said.

Marian Hadji Malik, an IDP who lives in the temporary shelter of Sagonsongan, Marawi City, said nothing is left of the P73,000 given by the Department of Trade and Industry to the IDPs to start small sari-sari stores.

“How can our sari-sari stores make a profit when most of our neighbors do not have work and money to buy,” Malik said.

Johari Pacasum, another IDP from Boganga temporary shelter, said big families are cramped inside small houses in the temporary shelter.

“I am used to sleeping in a comfortable bed. Now I sleep on the floor with a mat,” he said.

Liningding urged the government to allow the unconditional return of the bakwits so they can start rebuilding their lives and the city.

“President Duterte promised to rebuild our homes. We are asking him now to fulfill that promise,” Liningding said. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)