MANILA - Seeking a people-led rehabilitation of their war-ravaged hometown, concerned Maranaos appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte to stop the current plans to establish an economic zone and a military camp in Marawi City, until their pleas are heard.
In a statement, civilian group Ranaw Multi-Sectoral Movement said the ordinary folks of the lakeside city have been left out in the plans laid out by the Task Force Bangon Marawi during consultations held at the city hall last week.
"Plans have been made without our participation. Plans that neither bear the stamp of our will nor reflect our culture. Plans whose mechanics and implementation are not clear to us. But one thing is clear: the people of Marawi are largely left out," the group said.
"Those who came to present the plan dismissed our comments, recommendations, and protestations as though we knew nothing and have no business getting involved in rebuilding our very own city," it added.
The group feels that the rehab plan presented by the agency leading the daunting task of restoring a war-torn city is "an invasion of a different kind" as it is far from the vision of Maranao people.
The "people of the lake," who have resisted foreign invasions throughout history, insist their right to lead the rebuilding efforts in their homeland and not just by any urban planner, investor, or architect.
"Mr. President, please put a stop to the proposed ecozone and military camp plans until we have been heard, until our dreams and aspirations, our cultural sensitivities and our faith find expression in the rebuilding of Marawi City, our home. This is the cry of our people. This is the cry of Marawi," the group said.
Samira Gutoc, organizer of civilian group Ranao Rescue Team, said the order creating Task Force Bangon Marawi has to be amended.
Gutoc said her group has already submitted to the Senate a position paper signed by civilian groups and their leaders.
"Sa bakwit position paper, one of the plea sa paper is to amend the President's executive order na gawing mandatory ang membership ng civilian leaders sa Task Force Bangon Marawi," she said.
The Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, headed by Secretary Eduardo del Rosario, is the lead agency of Task Force Bangon Marawi.
They earlier presented plans of building riverside parks and promenades in ground zero where Marawi's town center was located. A military camp is also set to rise in the southern city.
Gutoc said plans presented to them by Del Rosario have contentious issues. During the consultation last week, she said the situation became tense when the HUDCC chief rejected their plea to stop building a military camp in Marawi.
"Decision-making has to be people-led, which means an assembly na dapat nire-recognize, hindi lang consultation, the plan should be based on the plan by the people. You just don't arrive sa Capitol with a drawing ng vision mo dahil may developer ka," she said.
Five months of war between terrorists and state troops reduced the once busy city of Marawi into rubble.
Residents of the most affected areas are set to enter ground zero for the first time since the siege erupted in May 23, 2017.
However, the residents will only be allowed to go there for a limited time to salvage whatever they can from their destroyed houses. They will go back to temporary shelters and stay there for at least
3 years while the government rebuilds the city.
The people of Marawi hopes the President, who in his speeches would often mention his Maranao blood, would hear their plea.