MANILA - Maranaos who lost their homes due to clashes in Marawi City are facing another challenge: being denied accommodation in nearby provinces just because they came from the conflict zone.
"Ang tinatanong daw mostly, 'Saan ka galing? Taga-Marawi ka ba? Maranao ka ba? Christian ka ba?' Kapag nalalaman daw na taga-Marawi, sinasabi na, 'Ay wala na pala kaming bakante,'" Zia Alonto Adiong, Marawi Crisis Management Committee spokesperson, said in a press conference.
"Ang ginagawa ng iba, kumukuha na lang sila ng mga kaibigang Christians para kunyare 'yun ang magrerenta. Pero kapag nalaman na iba pala 'yung magrerenta, they (business owners) will cut the deal off," he added.
Harrowing tales of Muslim families willing to pay rent but shut out of hotels, apartments, and bed spaces have been reported to authorities several times, but the government has yet to identify which establishments were closing their doors to these specific customers.
"Right now, we cannot identify the exact area, but we are getting complaints... Complaints that they are being denied of accommodation simply because they are residents of Marawi," Adiong said.
Instead of chasing away tenants fleeing from the war zone, Adiong said business owners should be more judicious in asking customers for identification cards and other requirements to ensure that they are not terrorists disguised as civilians.
He also called on business owners to grant Maranaos access to decent living spaces.
"There is no space in evacuation centers anymore. Even family members who are providing shelter, hindi na magkasya sa mga bahay," Adiong said.
"We appeal to them, for humanitarian reasons, to allow them to rent especially if they can afford it," he added.
Establishments that would discriminate against residents from Marawi may be denied business permits in the future, Adiong said.
Marawi City's population of more than 200,000 were forced to leave their homes and businesses after armed men waving black extremist flags torched buildings, shot non-Muslims, and overran the Islamic City last month.
As of June 21, at least 276 terrorists, 67 government troops, and 26 civilians have been killed due to the month-long fighting in the city, once the center of commerce in Lanao del Sur.