No homecoming for 35,000 Marawi folk - mayor

Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 24 2017 09:54 PM

Damaged buildings are seen inside a war-torn area in Marawi City, Tuesday, after the Philippines on Monday announced the end of five months of military operations in a southern city held by pro-Islamic State rebels. Romeo Ranoco, Reuters

Around 7,000 families or 35,000 individuals would have no home to return to after the 5-month terrorist siege of Marawi, Mayor Majul Gandamra said Tuesday. 

The affected families are from 24 barangays inside the main battle area, which was left in ruins by combat operations and military airstrikes. 

Local officials, he said, pegged the cost of rehabilitating the area at P16 billion. 

Defense Undersecretary Cesar Yano, head of Task Force Bangon Marawi, admitted that the government does not have any plans yet on how to compensate those who lost their homes. 

Issues on land ownership could complicate government response, Yano said. 

He noted that some families have been feuding among themselves over land ownership while others have occupied for decades portions of land declared as military reservation. 

SHORTAGE OF SHELTERS 

Marawi residents will be transferred to temporary shelters from evacuation centers during the city's rehabilitation. 

Yano, however, said only 600 shelters can be built by the end of the year, about half of the initial target of 1,175 shelters. 

Marawi officials, Yano said, have requested for the construction of 6,000 more shelters.
 
Gandamra said the first temporary shelters would go to the poorest residents who cannot rent apartments. "Walang palakasan dito," he said. 

Resident in 9 barangays farthest from the main battle area will be
allowed to rebuild their houses starting Thursday, October 26, said Yano. 

He said the government is still studying the rehabilitation of the war zone's worst-hit areas. 

Yano said one plan is to destroy everything and build a new city of Marawi. Another option is to preserve the main battle area as a memorial to the horrors of violent extremism while a new Marawi City is built somewhere else.
 
Gandamra was cold to the second proposal. 

"Ayaw natin, maalala ng ating mga kababayan, makikita nila nangyari sa amin, babalik balikan yan. Mas maganda na we will rebuild, reconstruct and expand," he said.