MANILA - The end of combat operations in Marawi does not signal the automatic return of displaced civilians to their homes, the Philippine government said Monday.
Speaking to reporters in Malacanang, Task Force Bangon Marawi spokesman Assistant Secretary Toby Purisima said that there is no specific timeframe yet to allow the return of residents, as government has yet to finalize an IDP Return Plan.
The Marawi local government has proposed the following stages of action prior to the return of internally displaced persons (IDP):
1. Area clean-up, property retrieval, and padlocking;
2. Restoration of governance with barangay peacekeeping action teams as security augmentation and barangay mapping/profiling; and
3. Restoration of vital facilities
"Wala pang specific timeframe because the IDP Return Plan is still being refined 'no, and is still being discussed," Purisima said.
"Of course, this was presented, this is being proposed by the local government unit. But in terms of harmonization of efforts, the national government agencies through the Task Force is giving its inputs in this --- in this --- to this Return Plan. So it's an evolving discussion."
The Philippine military earlier warned of the dangers of letting residents return to the battle area due to the presence of unexploded ordnances and traps set by terrorists.
Meanwhile, the task force assured that they will also be looking into land resource issues to determine rightful ownership of properties in Marawi.
Purisima said a Land Resource Management Subcommittee has been formed by the Task Force to analyze and resolve legal issues prior to the return of IDP's.
"Kung tutuusin, napakalaking effort, dahil kailangan talaga nating malaman 'yung metes and bounds so to say ng mga lupain diyan sa Marawi dahil alam natin na portions of that ay nasa under military reservation 'no. So lahat 'yan pinag-aaralan ng Task Force through its legal support group and all the agencies involved," he said.
Among the proposals being explored by the Task Force is the creation of an ID system to ensure that only legitimate resident will be able to return to Marawi.
In the meantime, the government is expediting the construction of temporary shelters in Barangay Sagonsongan in Marawi to accommodate thousands of evacuees in Marawi.
Purisima assured the public that the area will have adequate basic facilities and utilities, as well as opportunities for livelihood.