Marawi evacuees to Duterte: Focus on our needs first, before surrendering rebels’

Roxanne R. Arevalo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 29 2018 03:51 PM | Updated as of Jan 03 2019 06:15 AM

BALOI, Lanao del Norte—Families displaced during the Marawi siege last year are asking President Rodrigo Duterte to prioritize their housing needs, not those of former rebels.

Some families have been living at a multipurpose building in this town, with only polyester tents helping them live through harsh weather.

Their living conditions have been this way for 10 months now since losing their homes to the conflict. They said they blame the Maute and the Abu Sayyaf groups for their predicament.

Which is why it's hard for some of them to accept the president's gesture offering housing benefits to Abu Sayyaf members who will surrender.

Recently, a number of rebels laid down their arms in Sulu.

“ 'Di ko rin tanggap 'yung ganu'n. Dahil sa kanila nawalan ng tirahan 'yung mga (residente), dapat patalsikin na 'yang mga Abu Sayyaf siyempre. Baka manggulo pa ulit,” Johaira Dali said.

Her friend, Aida Datu Alabi, also an evacuee, said she believes they deserve the president’s attention.

“Dapat na unahin niya muna kami. Paano naman kami na nawalan ng tirahan?” she said.

The military stressed that it supports Duterte’s plan to reintegrate Abu Sayyaf rebels who surrender.

"Makikita natin si president ay bukas sa lahat ng maaaring mag-surrender upang matapos na ang kaguluhan dito sa Mindanao,” 81st Infantry Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Jason Jumawan said.