MANILA - Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza on Wednesday called for “social healing” among residents of Marawi City as he sought more patience with the government’s effort to rebuild the war-torn city.
Speaking at a press briefing at the Lanao del Sur provincial capitol, Dureza said repairing the social fabric damaged by the 5-month long siege is the top priority of the government as it continues to rebuild the structures torn down by the war.
“There must be some kind of a social healing, restoring back the moral fiber that was all destroyed because of conflict,” Dureza said.
The Philippines marks on Wednesday, May 23, the first year since the Marawi crisis erupted, which saw Islamic State-inspired terrorists capturing parts of the predominantly Islamic city in a bid to establish a stronghold in the region.
Over 1,000 people, mostly ISIS-inspired terrorists, were killed during the 5-month siege. The siege also displaced some 200,000 residents and the government has yet to fully open the city to civilians, some of whom wish to rebuild their homes and bring their lives back to normal.
Government troops continue to bar residents from returning to their homes, as many improvised bombs remain scattered around the city.
Dureza acknowledged the growing impatience among the displaced residents, but said rebuilding the city cannot be done as quick as one would wish.
“Please be patient. There’s no magic formula here. There’s no reconstruction that can happen overnight,” he said.
“There will be contrary voices and feelings, but it’s very important na maipalabas natin ang ating gustong maipaabot sa gobyerno.”
Residents who remain in temporary shelters fear that they won’t be able to come back to their homes in the city, where a majority of lands have no titles.
But Housing Undersecretary Felix Castro Jr., the chief of Task Force Bangon Marawi field office, assured Marawi residents that no privately owned land will be taken by the government.
“This is what we have been telling them, we will not touch private properties. The rehab will only involve government infrastructure,” Castro said.
Castro, however, noted that some structures might be affected by the road widening project in the city.
“We will not demolish private properties without their request. They have to inform us that they want their properties in the debris clearing,” he added.
“We have also requested to the residents we need time to do the debris clearing. It’s a very tedious task, it would be dangerous for people to also be there.”
The government has launched a rehabilitation program for Marawi worth at least P72 billion.
A consortium of Filipino and Chinese firms has been tapped to rebuild the so-called "ground zero" of Marawi.