'Demons' in our hometown: Fleeing Marawi residents slam Maute group

Patrick Quintos, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 26 2017 12:57 AM | Updated as of May 26 2017 01:21 AM

Families from Marawi City continue to flock to Iligan City and nearby areas for safety. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

ILIGAN CITY - "Sabi nila 'yung ginawa nila para sa Muslim? Hindi. Kademonyohan 'yan... Mga demonyo 'yan. 'Di iyan mga totoong Muslim." 

(They said what they're doing is for Muslims? No. That's an act of a demon. They are demons. They are not real Muslims.)

This was how "Shara," not her real name, described members of the terrorist group who attacked Marawi, which drove her family away from their home and into Iligan City.

Shara, a Muslim, is now safe in an evacuation center in Iligan but she can still recall the loud gunshots and explosions they heard from their home Tuesday night.

"Tinitingnan namin 'yung apoy mula doon sa mga sinusunog... Tapos may nakita kaming apoy na parang lumipad," she said referring to what she thought was something that came out of grenade launcher. 

(We were looking at what appears to be a fire from afar when suddenly something blazed across the air.)

Shara, her husband, and 5 other members of their family had to walk for nearly two hours going outside of the city before they could get a jeepney ride to Iligan.

Shara and her husband even had an asthma attack while walking. Good thing that they were able to bring their nebulizer with them and got help at a checkpoint along the way, she said.

Under the heat of the sun, a woman carries her dog as she walks toward the main checkpoint going to Iligan City. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

However, they were not able to bring other important things such as extra clothes, food, water, and extra cash. They stayed at a friend's house in Iligan for a day.

Barangay officials brought them to the nearest evacuation center the next day as staying at a non-relative's home, they were told, was not allowed. 

A kid who fled Marawi with her family finishes her lunch in an evacuation center in Iligan City. The city's social welfare and development department is making sure evacuees have enough food. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Like Shara, "Nanay Lita" also found her way to the same evacuation center in Iligan City as clashes continues in Marawi City. 

Aside from food, water, and medicine, the 52-year-old Marawi native is also worried about how they can start praying for the holy month of Ramadan.

"Iyan ang problema namin kasi Ramadan. 'Yung mosque namin na pinaganda namin... tapos hindi pala magagamit," she told ABS-CBN News Thursday. 

(That's our problem now because it's the holy month of Ramadan. We prepared our mosque but we can't even use it.)

The Darul Iftah of the Philippines announced on Thursday that the holy month of Ramadan among Muslims will start on Saturday, May 27.
 
The 52-year-old Nanay Lita, along with about 30 family members, left for Iligan City onboard a jeepney early Wednesday morning in fear for their lives. 

A woman covers her face at the dusty part of the road going to the main checkpoint entering Iligan City. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

They have no relatives in Iligan or any nearby areas and have to stay in an evacuation center. They were also not able to bring anything with them, not even carton boxes to sleep on. 

Nanay Lita said she can still remember loud gunshots that sent her tumbling down the stairs, which left her left foot injured, She wishes she could go home as soon as possible. 

Nanay Lita's foot is still swollen after she slipped on the stairs in their house in Marawi while they were leaving in panic. Patrick Quintos, ABS-CBN News

She said that Ramadan is important for Muslims as it is a period for prayers and reflection. 

The displaced Marawi resident condemned the attack in their hometown, saying that what the Maute group terrorists did are against the teachings of Islam. 

"Labag 'yun sa Islam. Mga bandido sila, puwede na sila tugisin," she said.

(What they're doing is against Islam. They are bandits and they should be captured.) 

Marawi exodus continues

Strict checks are enforced on people entering Iligan City, snarling traffic in the area. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Shara, Nanay Lita, and their families are just some of many Marawi residents fleeing to Iligan City as clashes between government troops and members of the Maute group continue. 

Evacuees have to endure at least 5 hours of journey going to the nearby city as police and military checkpoints require each vehicle to stop and unload passengers for checking. 

Passengers of a jeepney wait patiently for their turn at the main checkpoint entering Iligan City. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Some of the evacuees, especially those who had no big bags to carry, chose to walk under the heat of the sun just so they can move faster towards safety.

Almost all accommodations in Iligan are full. Some Marawi residents who fled home even went as far as Cagayan de Oro City just to have a place to stay for a while. Some went to the homes of their relatives.
 
Authorities said they are expecting more evacuees from Marawi as soldiers secured a road for those who are fleeing from the battle-torn city.