Iligan City Rep. Frederick Siao took exception to the claim of Manila-based journalist Raissa Robles that the Cagayan de Oro-Iligan-Marawi highway is not safe for travel during night time.
On June 3, Robles, who writes for the South China Morning Post, tweeted that “even military officers don’t travel the highway connecting CDO to Marawi via Iligan at night.”
“Ms. Robles tries to substitute her opinion for facts. Her tweet has no proper attribution. She only surmises about the presence of barriers near police checkpoints. Barriers are normal features of checkpoints,” Siao, the mayor-elect of Iligan City, said in a June 10 statement.
“Hindi naman kaila sa ating lahat na nagkaroon talaga ng problema sa seguridad ang Marawi City at ang iba pang bahagi ng Mindanao noon; ngunit, nais ko pong magalang na ibalita sa kanya na matagal na pong iba ang sitwasyon dito. Ligtas na po ngayon. At ang mga police checkpoint dito, gaya dyan sa Manila, ay bahagi na lamang ng ordinaryong routine ng PNP (Philippine National Police) at hindi bunsod ng anumang banta sa seguridad,” he added.
(We can’t deny that there’s a security problem in Marawi City and other parts of Mindanao before. But let me respectfully inform her that the situation has significantly changed. It is safer now. The police checkpoints here, like in Manila, are ordinary routine measures of the PNP and not because of any security threat,” he added.
Siao said the local police gave an assurance that travelling the city’s highway connecting Cagayan de Oro and Marawi at night and during daytime is safe.
“Travelers going to or passing through Iligan have nothing to fear about their security and safety. Tourists are most welcome and they are a big part of our shot at prosperity,” the lawmaker said.
Brig. Gen. Jose Maria Cuerpo, commander of the Marawi-based 103rd Infantry Brigade, said the government has planted the seeds of sustainable peace and development in the country’s lone Islamic City with the help of the residents. https://www.facebook.com/bangonmarawiph/videos/1038243903480464/
In May 2017, the Islamic State-aligned Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups seized Marawi in an attempt to establish the city as a province of the Islamic State in Southeast Asia. The Marawi siege uprooted over 350,000 civilians and left some 1,100 individuals dead, mostly Islamic militants. State security forces defeated the militants after a five-month urban warfare that left the core of the city in rubbles. According to Task Force Bangon Marawi, reconstruction works in the city is 72% complete. https://www.cnnphilippines.com/news/2022/5/21/Marawi-rehab-72–complete.html
Cuerpo appealed to residents to help the government preserve the gains of relative peace enjoyed in the area.
In February, with the improved peace and order situation in Marawi, government and private stakeholders launched the Davao-Marawi friendship bus route. https://www.sunstar.com.ph/article/1921916/davao/local-news/davao-marawi-bus-route-launched
The Mindanao Star Bus Transport, Inc. is plying the route traversing Davao City, Maramag and Talakag in Bukidnon, Cagayan de Oro City, Iligan City and Marawi City, and vice versa. As of March 2, the daily schedule for the Davao-Marawi route was 5 a.m. for the first trip, 7 a.m. for the second trip and 9 a.m. for the third and last trip. The route takes at least 12 hours, which means the last trip from Davao could reach Marawi by 9 p.m.
Amid the developments in Marawi, the United States and Canada, among others, continue to advise their citizens to avoid travelling to the city due to threats of terrorism. https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories/philippines-travel-advisory.html https://travel.gc.ca/destinations/philippines
As with all our other reports, MindaNews welcomes leads or suggestions from the public to potential fact-check stories. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)
(This fact-check piece was produced with the support of Internews’ Philippine Fact-Checker Incubator Project.)