Fighting for right to return to their homes, displaced Marawi residents hold rally

Froilan Gallardo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 21 2019 02:46 AM

MARAWI CITY— Desperate residents here demanded a return to their ruined homes, two years after militants linked to the Islamic State group were defeated by troops in 2017.

More than 200 residents and students staged a rally in the city park protesting being forced to live in tents and temporary shelters for more than two years.

They later marched to the provincial capitol, two kilometers away, to press members of the House subcommittee on Marawi rehabilitation to conduct an investigation on Task Force Bangon Marawi, the lead government agency for the Marawi rehabilitation.

“It is not easy to live in a tent with five children. It is hot and the tent is small for us,” a resident Farina Pagazad said.

Pagazad said they have lived in an evacuation village designated by government agencies as “Blue Tent”, since they were driven away from her house in downtown Marawi City in 2017.

She said she used to have a sari-sari store, a small computer store and “a good life for a mother of five children.”

“All of that is gone now and here we are. We do not even know if we can go back to our house. I do not even know if I have money to start a new life,” Pagazad said.

Hundreds of residents aired the same complaint during the public hearing of the House subcommittee on Marawi rehabilitation chaired by Rep. Makmod Mending (Party-list, AMIN) held at the gym in the provincial capitol in Marawi.

Marawi leader Drieza Liningding said he is demanding an investigation why Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) has yet to start the reconstruction more than two years after the siege ended.

Liningding also called for the resignation of TFBM chair Eduardo del Rosario if residents are unable to return home.

“I want some accountability. The residents have suffered enough,” Liningding said.

TFBM conducted a roadshow on Monday and Tuesday before the public hearing Wednesday.

They also raffled 34 slots for free Hajj trips to Mecca for Marawi residents. Each of these trips is said to cost P200,000.

Del Rosario said residents can finally return to their villages to repair or rebuild their homes by the first week of September after the debris clearing is done by August 30.

He said his group has resolved many issues in the reconstruction, including the much-debated land ownership thanks to new surveying technology provided by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Liningding said he would hold Del Rosario to that statement.

A motor cab plies a street of empty, destroyed buildings in Sector 1, Barangay Maphandi, Marawi City on Tuesday, March 19, 2018. Most of the commercial and downtown area of Marawi City is still off-limits to residents who have been staying in tents and temporary shelters for more than two years. Froilan Gallardo, ABS-CBN News

A soldier in an outpost with a tattered Philippine flag guards a row of empty buildings in Bangolo, Marawi City on Tuesday, March 19, 2018. Most of the commercial and downtown area of Marawi City is still off-limits to residents who have been staying in tents and temporary shelters for more than two years. Froilan Gallardo, ABS-CBN News

Desperate residents staged a rally in Marawi City on Wednesday, March 20, 2019 demanding for their return to their homes inside the city and for an investigation on alleged abuses. Froilan Gallardo, ABS-CBN News

Students raise small bond papers saying “no” to the construction of a new military camp. Froilan Gallardo, ABS-CBN News

Students demand an immediate return to their homes during a rally in in Marawi City on Wednesday, March 20, 2019. Froilan Gallardo, ABS-CBN News

Task Force Bangon Marawi chair Eduardo del Rosario breaks into tears after a deluge of complaints and calls for his resign during a dialogue with affected residents at the provincial capitol in Marawi City on Tuesday, March 19, 2019. Froilan Gallardo, ABS-CBN News