MANILA - Meager food and poor living conditions continue to plague some residents of Marawi staying at evacuation centers, even after the fall of the last Islamic State-linked fighters that seized their hometown.
At a covered court in Iligan City, Marawi resident Mila Dadole and her 10 children have spent the last 5 months sleeping on cardboard sheets. Blankets and towels forming a makeshift tent provide their only modicum of privacy from 165 other families in the area.
"Napakahirap kasi hindi naman kami kasya dito. Iyung iba doon lang sa gate," Dadole told DZMM while cradling her youngest child, a 3-month old baby.
(This is very difficult because we are cramped here. Some evacuees stay at the gate.)
Another mother, Meldrid Bariga, lamented the insufficient relief aid from the government.
Each evacuee, she said, gets coffee, several kilos of rice, 4 cans of corned beef and 4 cans of sardines every 2 weeks.
"Hindi [iyan] magkasya sa pamilya kung marami ang anak," Bariga said. (That is not enough for a family with many children.)
The government announced an end to the 154-day siege in Marawi on Monday when troops retook a building where Maute and Abu Sayyaf gunmen made their last stand.
Authorities said 920 militants, 165 troops and police and at least 45 civilians were killed in the conflict, which displaced more than 300,000 people.
The government has begun the rehabilitation of Marawi, a once bustling urban center left in ruins by the fighting.
Local officials said evacuees may return to Marawi by December after the city has been cleared of booby traps and stray bombs, said Dadole.