MANILA - The government must address the needs of thousands displaced by fighting in Marawi City after Congress extended martial law in the south until the end of the year, a local official said Monday.
Aside from sustained military offensives, martial law should be accompanied by a "soft package" to win the people's support, said Muslim region assemblyman and crisis committee spokesman Zia Alonto Adiong.
Foremost on the minds of the minds of the evacuees is when they will be allowed to return to their homes, Adiong said.
"Let us use this as an opportunity to for the military to reach out to the people. Use martial law as a means to change that paradigm because we have so many stories of injustice, human rights which are really correct and these are actually reinforced the desire of the people to really have a separate nation in the principle of right to self-determination," told ANC's Headstart.
Some 500 people have been killed in 2 months of fighting between government troops and Islamic State-inspired extremists in Marawi, which prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to place Mindanao under martial law.
"We cannot fight Marawi alone in terms of militarily. We have to engage with the people, we have to listen to the people, and martial law is a perfect opportunity," Adiong said.